Lorraine: Dr Amir says spine could shrink if deficient in vitamin D
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Vitamin D supplements are most often prescribed to people in the UK during the cold, dark winter months when sunshine is less frequent. They are particularly helpful for people who do not get enough vitamin D naturally from the food they eat. However, as people begin to spend more time soaking up the sun’s UV-B rays, they may no longer need to take vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin”, because your skin actually makes this essential nutrient naturally sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur.
According to the NHS, between October and early March, most people in the UK do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight.
This is why getting the vitamin in other forms is essential.
In many cases, people who are at risk of not getting enough vitamin D will be prescribed supplements by their doctor during the winter months.
When can you stop taking vitamin D supplements?
According to the NHS, it won’t be long before you can put your vitamin D supplements away in preparation for the warmer days.
The health service states: “From about late March/early April to the end of September, the majority of people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight on their skin.”
Though there is no certainty how sunny spring will be in the UK, according to the Met Office, in 2021 the nation recorded 174.6 hours of sunshine.
However, it did not beat the current record of 2020, which saw Britons bathe in 224.5 hours of spring sunshine.
If you are uncertain of whether or not you could be at risk of a vitamin D deficiency, it is always best to speak to your GP for advice.
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What alternatives are there to vitamin D supplements?
Even if the sunshine remains tucked away behind the clouds, there are plenty of ways to get vitamin D naturally as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
The vitamin can be found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and herring.
Animal products such as red meat and liver are also packed with vitamin D, as well as egg yolks.
Of course, for people who do not eat meat or animal products, these are not an option.
Luckily, there are numerous foods that are fortified with vitamin D, including fat spreads, breakfast cereals and even mushrooms.
Food fortification involves the addition of vitamins and minerals during food manufacture or processing.
Children aged one and above, and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
What are the risks of not getting enough vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient which helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body.
These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
As of 2021, according to Nurtition.org, is it estimated that around one in six adults have low levels of vitamin D in the blood.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities, such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
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