Vitamin D requirements in the UK is my main focus for this post, as well as any other part of the world where we don’t recieve adequate sunshine during winter and changing months to keep ones body topped up with vitamin D.
Considering our change through the industrial and agricultural revolutions over the past few hundred years (or perhaps longer, don’t quote me and feel free to correct me on that one) we don’t get out so much. Particularly during the summer months when we could probably accrue a nice stock of Vitamin D to see us through the winter. Our bodies need vitamin D to:
- Support a healthy immune system and therefore not be so sick prone
- Help build/maintain healthy bones (along side calcium)
- Promote healthy muscle function, including the heart muscle and respiratory/breathing tissues!
- Work with brain development
- Manages calcium levels in the blood and all over the body, calcium not only important for bones but for functioning and communication of the bodies vast nervous system.
So all pretty important things. If you’re deficient in Vitamin D you can bet you feel
- Tired and unable to get moving
- Unexpected weakness
- Chronic pain
- Easily broken bones
Generally, unless you eat enough oily fish (with the bones of the small guys like sardines, mackerel or tinned salmon* – be mindful of choking hazards unless you’re used to this, I personally hate eating the bones) and/or get enough sun, or live in a country with better sun UV penetration, it’d be worth getting your vitamin levels checked by your GP if you’re experiencing the above symptoms. It’s not like everyone is going to need it but if experiencing symptoms for a prolonged period it’s probably worth checking.
What to do about Vitamin D if you’re deficient?
Most likely your doctor will tell you to buy some supplements, unless it’s a really severe case of deficiency and they may give you an injection. Both are fine. Just be mindful you can take too much of this good thing and it is a fat soluble vitamin and therefore will store in the body in an unhealthy manner if you have an excess. There are generally 2 different varieties and 2 different strengths you can get, get the lower strength (0.010 micro grams/day) unless advised otherwise. The type needs to be D3, not D2, here’s why:
Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) which is derived from plant sources also known as Viosterol and is produced by yeast and fungi. Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), which used to only be derived from animal/fish sources such as cod liver oil, is now also found in vegan form from the microorganism, lichen. Vitamin D, (D2 and D3) are also fat soluble vitamins which means they require some dietary fat to be present for their absorption (hence another reason oily fish rocks).
Vitamin D3 is produced in your skin when UVB rays in the sunlight interact with 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) present in the skin. D3 has a much larger efficacy (i.e. is much more effective) that D2, about 4:1 ratio of doses needed to achieve the same results, so don’t waste your time with a D2 supplement.
*Mushrooms are also reported to contain vitamin D – to give yours a boost, sun dry them in direct sunlight (of course if in UK needs to be done in the summer months) and store in an airtight container (if you can wait that long to eat them!) for consumption through later months of the year to ad a natural boost to your levels.
Hope that helps. Always remember moderation, and natural balances are always better than supplements, get out in the sun when you can, remembering to take care during 11 – 2pm during summer months when the sun is the most hot, seek shade and plenty of water.