Vitamin D has been talked about continuously over the past few years, largely for its benefit to our immune health. However, the national diet and nutrition survey has shown that low vitamin D status was found in all age groups, with 16% of individuals being aged 18-64.1
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in some foods but mainly absorbed through UV sunlight.
Research has shown good levels of vitamin D are associated with2,3
- Supporting muscle function
- Reduce the risk of falls and fractures- (by maintaining muscular stability)
- Aid absorption of calcium into the bloodstream- (via osteocalcin production)
- Reduce the risk of colds and flu, supporting immunity
- Helping to maintain blood pressure
What happens if you are low in vitamin D?
Vitamin D deficiency usually occurs when your levels fall below 50nmol/L.4 The common symptoms for vitamin D deficiency are fatigue, muscle weakness, bone pain, and mood changes, such as depression.
This may lead to health conditions, the most notable being bone pain – known to cause rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. Research has shown that other health effects of poor vitamin D intake may include, heart disease, diabetes, infections/immune disorders, and more!3
Should everyone take vitamin D?
The short answer is yes!
As you are probably aware, living in the UK means we don’t get exposed to a lot of sunlight, making it difficult for our bodies to absorb vitamin D. This makes it more common for us Brits to have low vitamin D levels and so vitamin D deficiency, making supplementation important!
How much do we need?
Everyone needs different levels of vitamin D so it’s difficult to say how much we should all be taking. The current guidelines suggest everyone in the UK should consider supplementing, the NHS recommends 400IU per day.5 However, some research suggests that many may need more!
Reasons you may need higher doses of vitamin D:
- Those who don’t get enough sunshine
- Age: As we age our body’s ability to absorb vitamin D decreases
- Complexion: Those with darker skin naturally produce less vitamin D through sun exposure
- Clothing: With more skin covered, fewer UV rays can reach the skin and so less vitamin D can be produced
- Those who wear sunscreen: as it may inhibit vitamin D production
1. Public Health England. National Diet And Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme Years 9 To 11 (2016/2017 To 2018/2019); 2019:6-19. Accessed June 14, 2022.
2. Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin D. Ods.od.nih.gov. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/. Published 2022. Accessed June 14, 2022.
3. Charoenngam N, Holick M. Immunologic Effects of Vitamin D on Human Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2020;12(7):2097. doi:10.3390/nu12072097
4. Vitamin D And Health. SACN; 2022:15. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/537616/SACN_Vitamin_D_and_Health_report.pdf. Accessed June 17, 2022.
5. Vitamin D. nhs.uk. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/. Published 2020. Accessed June 14, 2022.