Dubbed the ‘sunshine vitamin’, Vitamin D is a vital component of a healthy immune system, as well as strong bones, teeth and muscles. But the likelihood is, you’re not getting enough of it. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 1 billion people are low in Vitamin D globally, and it’s for this reason that I’m passionate about emphasising the importance of the vitamin and the fact that everyone should be supplementing it daily.
Why Vitamin D matters
More so resembling a hormone, vitamin D is not technically a vitamin – and our bodies don’t produce it on their own. It can only be processed through consuming specific foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and red meat, and absorbed by our skin with direct exposure to sunlight – UVB rays specifically.
An insufficient supply of Vitamin D can lead to a host of issues – it’s vital for everything from hormone balance and immune function to healthy teeth, bones, good brain health and mood. It’s especially important for the formation of the happy hormone, serotonin, which is why many people experience low moods during the winter months. Research has also shown that low levels can increase our risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In other words, there are very few areas of the body that it doesn’t reach. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to keep your levels topped up.
How do you know if you’re deficient?
Deficiency can be assessed using a simple blood test – which you can request through your GP or privately. Common symptoms include muscle aches, pain, fatigue and depression, but some people can be deficient and experience no symptoms at all.
Should you be supplementing?
In the UK, we are all susceptible to vitamin D deficiency – especially between October to March – since the UK offers too little sunlight to give our bodies what they need and getting enough from diet alone can be challenging.
There are five different types when it comes to vitamin D, but it’s Vitamin D3 that’s key. Aim for 3000-6000iu every day, especially during September to May. Pregnant women, vegans and people who spend a lot of time indoors are more likely to develop a deficiency, so it’s a good idea to test and check your levels if you’re worried.
I recommend that my patients use the Better You D-Lux 3000 Spray, which, as it’s in a spray form, ensures the vitamin is absorbed into the bloodstream rather than being digested in the stomach, which can cause some of the nutrients to be lost.
Vitamin D and menopause
Vitamin D is particularly important for female health due to its close working relationship with oestrogen. Oestrogen can increase the activity of the enzyme that activates vitamin D in the body. So, when our oestrogen levels decline as we approach menopause, our vitamin D levels may also drop. In support of supplementation, several studies also suggest that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D may help to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances and poor concentration, so it’s worthwhile keeping your levels topped up if you’re heading towards this stage of your life.
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