What is Vitamin D and what does it do in the body?
Unlike other vitamins, your body makes its own Vitamin D as a result of the exposure of your skin to sunlight. Ultraviolet B rays trigger the production of cholecalciferol (Vitamin D) in the skin. In the UK we can only make Vitamin D from sunlight between the months of May and September. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn.
The body then converts the Vitamin D that is made by the skin into a hormone called calcitriol (or activated Vitamin D) and this plays a number of important functions in the body including:
- The absorption of calcium and phosphorus into the bones and teeth
- Supporting the immune system
- Helping communication between cells
- Supporting a healthy respiratory system
- Muscle function
- Brain development
- Reducing inflammation
We can get tiny amounts of Vitamin D from specific foods such as oily fish, liver and eggs, and some foods are fortified with it (butter, margarine, milk, breakfast cereals) but the quantities we can get from food are negligible compared to what our skin makes from sun exposure.
What health conditions are associated with Vitamin D deficiency?
- Rickets and osteomalcia (thin, soft or brittle bones)
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Autoimmune diseases
Are there any health conditions which impact our Vitamin D levels?
Yes some health conditions will impair the body’s production of Vitamin D as well as its absorption. These include:
- Kidney and liver disease
- Coeliac disease, cystic fibrosis and Crohn’s Disease which impair the absorption of Vitamin D
In addition to this our ability to produce Vitamin D declines with age
Who should be concerned about low Vitamin D levels?
All of us living in the UK! But it is particularly important for:
- anyone who has broken a bone
- those with a diagnosis of osteomalacia, osteopenia or osteoporosis
- women trying to conceive
- people suffering with depression
- those suffering with bone pain or “growing pains”
- pregnant women
- the elderly
- those whose exposure to the sun is restricted either by working indoors, clothing or having to wear sunscreen because of fair skin
- people with autoimmune conditions such as Coeliac Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis
- anyone diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis
- overweight people
How can you find out what your Vitamin D levels are?
Your GP can test your Vitamin D for free or we can supply you with a finger prick home testing kit.
Both of our nutritionists in Ealing and Uxbridge can offer you a Vitamin D package which includes a home testing kit plus a consultation to advise you on appropriate supplementation and dosage, plus dietary and lifestyle tips.
If you are interested please email Emily Fawell (Emily@bridgetohealth.co.uk) in Ealing or Giulietta Durante (email@example.com) in Uxbridge to book your consultation.