The clocks are changing and with not only daylight hours but sunshine in the UK in scant supply now is a timely and essential reminder of the importance of maintaining good levels of vitamin D in the body.
This crucial health matter has been further highlighted by official figures that note “New figures show the number of children in hospital suffering from Vitamin D deficiency have tripled in four years, as experts say parents should ensure young children take a supplement daily.”
“The number of children with vitamin D deficiency has soared by more than 200 per cent in five years because parents are unaware how important it is for health, a study by the ‘Vitamin D Mission’ has revealed. It also exposed a ‘worrying’ lack of knowledge by GPs and health workers about the Government’s guidelines on the vitamin.”
This news was widely reported and we provide pertinent quotes below from the Telegraph and the Vitamin D Mission (links to the respective web pages are available below).
Guidance on Vitamin D
Although the focus of much of the news was on vitamin D deficiency in children it was also noted that “Earlier this year, guidance from the National Institute for Health and care Excellence (Nice) said one in five Britons may now be deficient.” Indeed Government guidelines are currently in place for not only children (under 5 years) to be on vitamin D supplements but also those over 65 and pregnant women , and those planning pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Unfortunately many people seem still ignorant of this advice and the importance of maintaining suitable vitamin D levels. A recent HFMA survey for example (Health Food Manufacturers’ Association) identified that:
“Only half (of those 10,000 adults surveyed) think it is particularly important to have sufficient intake of vitamin D for bone health in childhood and only 57% think it important for infancy, whilst only a third believe vitamin D is important for adults aged 80+.” Whilst: “To help reduce the loss of bone later in life, only 57% recognised Calcium as important.”
One excellent way of conveying information is visually and below we provide the key vitamin D facts in a graphical form. We have also previously written detailed articles on vitamin D and we provide links to these blogs further below too.
The ‘Sunshine Vitamin’
The foremost piece of information to appreciate in regard to vitamin D is that it is known as ‘The Sunshine Vitamin’. This is because sunlight is necessary for the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin and those lacking in sunlight are at high risk of deficiency. We can’t stress this point enough as vitamin D is not found in abundance naturally in foods. So simply put, not enough sunshine not enough vitamin D, and hence issues with widespread deficiency in the UK particularly in areas such as parts of Scotland that get even less sunshine. The amount of sunlight (UV) in our winter months is insufficient and we need to draw on our bodily reserves (as such).
There are some foods rich in vitamin D, primarily oily fish and eggs however fish consumption is poor in this country and as the Vitamin D Mission note:
“Salmon and other oily fish are big in vitamin D, along with liver, eggs and fortified cereals. But because of the quantities needed it’s hard to get enough from diet alone.”
Permitted Health Claims
Vitamin D has the following permitted health claims (Source: 15% RDA per 100g/ml):
- Vitamin D contributes to the normal absorption /utilisation of calcium and phosphorus
- Vitamin D contributes to normal blood calcium levels
- Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth
- Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal muscle function
- Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system
- Vitamin D has a role in the process of cell division
- Vitamin D is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children
“Parents should consider vitamin D supplements for their children as the number suffering from deficiency and risking rickets has almost tripled in four years, experts say. Shortages of the vitamin can cause rickets in children and increase the risk of osteoporosis and cancers in adults. Children’s doctors said the statistics were “very worrying” and said parents should consider giving daily supplements.
Experts said some of the problems were likely to be linked to indoor lifestyles, with children spending too much time on computers and gaming consoles during summer, and being left with low stocks of vitamin D when winter arrives.
In the UK, sunlight between November and March is short of ultraviolet B radiation, meaning stocks from the body’s stores and food sources. As well as causing brittle bones, bow legs and other deformities, deficiencies of vitamin D can be fatal, causing a type of heart failure.
A survey of 250 GPs and health visitors commissioned by the Vitamin D Mission, a public health awareness campaign, found almost one third were not aware of Government advice that those aged between six months and five years should take a daily supplement, especially during winter.
One in five UK adults have a low vitamin D status – meaning they have less than 25 nmol/litre of the active form of vitamin D in their body. The deficiency can occur at any age but is more likely during periods of rapid growth, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Earlier this year, Nice guidance warned that the elderly are also at high risk, especially those in care homes and those who are housebound, or confined to home much of the time.”
(Excerpts as reported by the Daily Telegraph – link to the full story below)
Vitamin D3 and RDA
Vitamin D3 is the most bioavailable form of this nutrient and far preferable to Vitamin D2 to supplement with. There is ongoing debate on what levels of Vitamin D to supplement with – recent studies suggest that significantly higher levels than the current European RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) are optimally beneficial. Vitamin D3 is also termed ‘cholecalciferol’.
Where you wish to take a multivitamin and mineral that includes Vitamin D3 it is always important to select such a multi-formula with a nutrient content tailored for your age, gender, pre-existing medical conditions, or specifically for children where appropriate. If you are considering taking a vitamin D3 supplement and a multivitamin make sure that you assess the total combined dosage of the vitamin that you will be taking.
If you have any questions regarding this article, any of the health topics raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time. If you want to be alerted by email when a new post is published simply add your email address in the ‘Get The Latest Post By Email’ in the right-hand column.
Amanda Williams, Cytoplan Ltd
firstname.lastname@example.org, 01684 310099
Cytoplan vitamin D3 High Potency Tablets (50µg) – Vitamin D3 is the most bioavailable form of this nutrient and Cytoplan Food State vitamin D3 is combined in a food base of ‘lactobacillus bulgaricus’ to give superior absorption, utilisation and be gentle on the tummy. High potency with 90 tablets at 50µg.