Why do we need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone essential for healthy bones, yet it’s estimated approximately 60% of the UK population is Vitamin D deficient! One of the main reasons for this is lack of exposure to the sun’s UVB rays, and the other is poor diet.
Vitamin D from sunlight and food
Our body creates Vitamin D naturally from the skin’s direct exposure to sunlight (mostly during the spring and summer months). While it’s not known exactly how long we need to be out in the sunlight for our bodies to make enough vitamin D, it’s estimated daily short periods with your arms and legs uncovered between March to September should be sufficient. You shouldn’t wear sunscreen, but obviously must take care not to burn.
It’s important to understand that you can’t make Vitamin D from sitting next to a window, as the sun’s UVB rays can’t penetrate glass. You also generally don’t make Vitamin D during the winter months, as the sun’s rays don’t contain enough UVB radiation.
During winter, you should ensure your diet contains lots of Vitamin D rich foods, such as red meat, liver, egg yolks and oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon. Some foods such as spreads, cereals and baby formula are fortified with Vitamin D, too.
The effects of Vitamin D
We need Vitamin D to maintain strong, healthy bones, teeth and muscles. It regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in our body and if we don’t get enough, our bones can become weak, which can lead to deformities and diseases such as rickets in children.
Vitamin D receptors are found in almost all cells in the human body, so being deficient can cause significant health problems in later life beyond bone health too.
Who’s at risk?
We’re all at risk of becoming Vitamin D deficient if we don’t get enough sunlight, however, some of us are more vulnerable than others.
Our ability to produce Vitamin D declines with age, so the elderly can often develop a deficiency, especially if they’re frail, housebound and don’t get enough exposure to sunlight. People with darker skin may also not be able to get enough Vitamin D from direct sunlight.
Young babies and children should be kept out of direct sunlight too, so it’s recommended they take a Vitamin D supplement up to 5 years old.
How to boost your Vitamin D intake
As well as direct sunlight and diet, you can also take a Vitamin D supplement to boost your levels. These are available in capsule, liquid or in oral spray form.
Oral vitamin sprays are a great alternative if you don’t like swallowing tablets. Some taste fruity and are suitable for the elderly, babies, children and pregnant women. Sprays are easy to take on-the-go and just as effective as capsules. In fact, as the micro droplets are absorbed into the soft tissue in your mouth instead of the gastrointestinal tract, the spray’s nutrients enter your bloodstream much quicker.
How to take Vitamin D oral sprays
Individual sprays will have their own recommended doses, but most suggest one spray daily is sufficient to supplement your diet.