Dr Ellie on why people should be taking Vitamin D supplements
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Certain vitamins and minerals are essential to our bodies. Without some we can be left fatigued, run down and even vulnerable to illnesses. An expert spoke with Express.co.uk about some of the consequences of one vitamin deficiency in particular.
Scott McDougall, manager and co-founder of The Independent Pharmacy, highlighted the importance of vitamin D.
“The body’s main source of vitamin D is direct sunlight,” he explained.
“It helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body which are both needed for keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy as well as maintaining a strong immune system.”
What happens when someone becomes deficient?
He warned of poor sleeping patterns and mood changes as just two symptoms caused by a vitamin D deficiency.
Mr McDougall said: “Adults and children over the age of one need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
“However, from September to March when sunlight hours are reduced, there is a risk of developing conditions such as rickets, muscle weakness, poor sleeping patterns, hair loss and mood changes.
“Other existing medical conditions can also make some groups more prone to vitamin D deficiencies.
“During the winter, some people produce more melatonin than usual, resulting in seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms such as sleepiness and low energy levels.
“Vitamin D supplements can help to restore mood and energy when our bodies absorb less natural sunlight during the autumn and winter seasons.
“Increasing the amount of natural sunlight in your environment can also alleviate symptoms.
“Try and sit near windows when working and incorporate daily walks into your routine between late morning and early afternoon when sun exposure is at its strongest.”
Why does this happen?
He said: “There are two main causes of vitamin D deficiency: not getting enough vitamin D or your body not absorbing it properly.
“Poor vitamin D absorption can be caused by underlying health conditions such as Crohn’s disease or cystic fibrosis as the intestines are directly affected and cannot absorb all the vitamin D from your food.
“Similarly, if you are overweight, high-fat levels can trap vitamin D. If you have symptoms of a deficiency, your doctor may recommend supplements, a vitamin-rich diet, or further testing.”
If you think you are deficient what should you do?
He advised seeking professional advice from your GP if you think you are deficient.
“They may recommend getting more sunlight by going outside, but vitamin D supplements are another excellent way to get your daily dose of vitamin D,” he said.
“You should also eat more vitamin-rich foods like salmon, mushrooms, orange juice, and red meat.”
How can you prevent becoming deficient?
Mr McDougall added: “Some individuals are more vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency than others.
“However, getting as much natural sunlight as you can throughout the day will help manage your symptoms.
“During the autumn and winter months from October to March, you cannot get enough vitamin D from the sun and taking a supplement will be required.”
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