Need a dose of sunshine? We should all consider taking a vitamin D supplement this winter, says the NHS
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In the UK, the cold season doesn’t just bring fewer hours of daylight – the sunlight itself becomes less strong.
And that can make us more susceptible to a vitamin shortage than people in sunnier climes, especially when it comes to the ‘sunshine vitamin’.
That’s the affectionate nickname for vitamin D, given because our bodies can create it simply when the skin is exposed to enough natural sunlight.
But between October and early March, British sunlight doesn’t contain enough ultraviolet B radiation for our bodies to do this.
In the UK, the cold season doesn’t just bring fewer hours of daylight – the sunlight itself becomes less strong
Vitamin D is a mineral that contributes to many aspects of our musculoskeletal health. It allows us to absorb calcium and phosphorus normally and contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth. It also contributes to the normal functioning of our immune systems, muscle function and blood calcium levels.
Between spring and summer, most of us are able to get the vitamin D we need just from spending short periods with our forearms, hands or lower legs exposed outdoors. Between October and March, we rely on a healthy diet to stop us from becoming deficient.
Foods naturally rich in vitamin D include fatty fish, fish oils, liver and eggs. Other foods such as margarine, powdered milk and breakfast cereals are often fortified with vitamin D in the UK.
Vitamin D is often called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because our bodies can create it simply when the skin is exposed to enough natural sunlight
But it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone, and many of us don’t get enough. Following advice from Public Health England, the NHS recommends that everyone in the UK over the age of five should consider taking a supplement containing 10 micrograms (μg) of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
‘Many of us risk not getting enough,’ advises nhs.uk. ‘Taking a supplement helps to keep levels of the vitamin topped up during the colder months.’
With this recommendation in mind, the Cambridge-based health supplements company FutureYou developed a Vitamin D+ formulation to help people to stay topped up with just one 25-microgram capsule a day.
‘We wanted to make the vitamin D in our supplement as easy as possible for our bodies to absorb. We call this ‘bioavailability’,’ explains Miriam Ferrer PhD, head of product development at FutureYou Cambridge. ‘Vitamin D is soluble in fat, so we combined it in a capsule with sunflower oil. This makes it highly bioavailable.’
FutureYou Cambridge are currently offering everyone a month-long supply of their vegetarian-friendly Vitamin D+ to try with a £5 discount.
Low levels of vitamin D can lead to muscle weakness, falls and fragility fractures in older people
The lack of sunshine at this time of the year affects the vast majority of people in the UK, but as highlighted by nhs.uk, some of us will stay at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency all year round, even in the height of summer.
These include pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with darker skin, people who are housebound or in care homes, and people who cover up in the sunshine.
Low levels of vitamin D can lead to muscle weakness, falls and fragility fractures in older people. It’s been found that vitamin D helps to reduce the risk of falling associated with postural instability and muscle weakness. Falling is a risk factor for bone fractures among men and women aged 60 and over (the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 20 micrograms of vitamin D from all sources).
The NHS advises people in higher risk groups to consider taking a vitamin D supplement all year round. Adults shouldn’t take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day while children between the ages of one and ten shouldn’t exceed 50 micrograms daily.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a child under four years of age it’s worth checking if you qualify for the NHS’s Healthy Start Scheme. You may be entitled to free vitamin D supplements.
Adam Cleevely, CEO of FutureYou Cambridge says: ‘we’re proud to have developed a high-quality vitamin D supplement that may help you achieve the recommended daily intake’
Babies who have more than half a litre of infant formula a day don’t need a vitamin D supplement, as baby formula is already fortified by law.
Adam Cleevely, CEO of FutureYou Cambridge says, ‘Here in the UK, we’re incredibly fortunate to have access to the NHS. Most of us will have relied on them for advice and support at some point in our lives. Their advice to consider taking vitamin D between October and March is something we can all heed. Here in Cambridge, we’re proud to have developed a high-quality vitamin D supplement that may help you achieve the recommended daily intake of 10 micrograms.’
If you’re taking prescribed medication or have a medical condition, you should always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking vitamins or supplements.
If there was ever a reason to celebrate the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year – on December 22nd, it’s that days can only get longer from then on.
But if that’s not enough, then perhaps just feel grateful you don’t live in Longyearbyen, Norway, where the sun set on October 27th and won’t rise again until February 16th 2020.
Get £5 off your pack of Vitamin D+
FutureYou Cambridge is offering £5 off for new customers who would like to try Vitamin D+. You will pay just £7.50, a 40% saving off the standard retail price.
To claim your £5 off promotional discount, please visit https://futureyouhealth.com/vitamind-offer and your discount will be applied automatically.
You can also claim your discount by entering the code DMVD5C at checkout, or call us on 0800 808 5740 (freephone) quoting the code DMVD5C. Our Customer Care team are available from 9.00am to 5.00pm, seven days a week.
Discount valid until 23.59 GMT 31st January 2020. One use per customer. Discount cannot be combined with any other offers or used against existing subscriptions. Further offer terms and conditions available here https://futureyouhealth.com/vitamind-offer.
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