Do you spend most of your day indoors? Do you always use high factor sun protection when you go out in the sun? If you answered yes, then you could be suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Recent research suggests that around 5 in 10 UK adults, and 9 in 10 adults of South Asian origin, may be vitamin D deficient, particularly in winter and spring.
Vitamin D is made in the skin with the help of sunlight. This is our main source of vitamin D and requires bare skin and direct sunlight to work. For six months of the year (October to April) 90% of the UK lies above the latitude that permits exposure to enough ultraviolet B light necessary for vitamin D synthesis. A small number of foods such as liver, oily fish and eggs are also good sources of vitamin D, but you would need to eat an enormous amount to keep your levels in the desired range. The farmed fish typically consumed in the UK may contain less vitamin D content than wild fish, which adds to the problem. Vitamin D plays a key role in bone health and is particularly important in children, pregnant and breastfeeding women. In recent years, studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to a growing number of health concerns including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, prostate disease, some autoimmune conditions, and depression. Most people with vitamin D deficiency have no symptoms or only vague symptoms such as tiredness, muscle aches or spasms, or lower body bone pains.
A simple blood test can be used to diagnose vitamin D deficiency and it can be treated with supplements. However, the best and easiest way to increase your vitamin D level is to go out in the sun! Experts recommend we aim for 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure a day, after which we should cover up or apply sunscreen. People with lighter skin may need less exposure than those with darker skin but everyone should still be careful not to burn. Do you know what your level is? For further information or advice on testing for vitamin D deficiency, please contact us.