Sunshine in a Pill

Even at the height of Summer in the UK we may still not be getting enough Vitamin D3. Getting the optimum amount into your system could help alleviate depression, frequent infections, improve skin condition and bone health and so much more! In this article I will outline the how, what, when and why of it all. 

Lets begin with the problem first.

NICE (The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence) states that an estimated 10 million people in the UK are deficient in Vitamin D. That is around 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 children.

The main natural source of vitamin D is through the action of sunlight on the skin, but in the UK from mid-October to the start of April, sunlight doesn’t have the correct wavelength to create vitamin D in the skin. Many people are not aware that the sources of vitamin D available from food are limited. This means that people who are at risk of low vitamin D status may need dietary supplements.
— The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence

The NHS agrees "we get most of our Vitamin D from the sun". But that's where the NHS stop being of any use on the subject. They continue "but take care to protect yourself with sunscreen". This isn't helpful at all seeing as sunscreen blocks a massive 97% of Vitamin D production AND is really very toxic.

However, so far all this information is completely irrelevant because to produce nearly the required amount of Vitamin D from the sun you would need to be out in it with very few clothes on for around 25 minutes every single day between 12:00pm-2:00pm. "Lucky you!" to anyone with that luxury!

The health implications behind Vitamin D deficiency are serious and has been linked to many cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic muscle pain, bone loss and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D has a huge impact on the health and function of your cells. It reduces cellular growth (which promotes cancer) and improves cell differentiation (which puts cells into an anti-cancer state). It also reduces inflammation, boosts mood, eases muscle aches and fibromyalgia, and builds healthy bones. When we don’t get enough it impacts every area of our biology because it affects the way our cells and genes function. And many of us are deficient for one simple reason... 

NOT ENOUGH SUNSHINE

"Between October and April, the sunlight in the UK usually has too low a level of UVB for vitamin D to be produced"

"Between October and April, the sunlight in the UK usually has too low a level of UVB for vitamin D to be produced"

80-90% of the vitamin D we need comes from the sun. The suns rays that makes our skin a little bit red (named Ultra Violet B or UVB) produces the equivalent of 10,000 to 25,000 international units of vitamin D in our bodies. As sated above, between October and April, the sunlight in the UK usually has too low a level of UVB for vitamin D to be produced. We either aren't in the sun enough, or when we are we use sunscreen. I must emphasise, while this protects against skin cancer it also blocks Vitamin D production, not to mention it is a highly toxic substance that absorbs into your blood stream through your skin! 

Unfortunately we aren't getting the right information regarding how much Vitamin D we really need to take. The NHS recommends taking 10micrograms (400IU) per day. In August 2012, the European Food Safety Authority stepped in and increased the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (the levels that can be taken daily without causing harm) to 4000IU. This amount is still widely regarded as too low for some suffering with health conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (which many people do not realise they have), MS, Osteoporosis, Fibromyalgia, High Blood Pressure, Auto-Immune Conditions and frequent infections. 

Recent research by Vitamin D pioneer Dr. Michael Holick, Professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine, recommends intakes of up to 2,000-4,000 IU a day. This is just to maintain general health. Remember that sun exposure creates between 10,000-25,000IU of Vitamin D, so we don't need to be scared of this essential nutrient! One study of healthy young men receiving 10,000 IU of Vitamin D for 20 weeks showed no toxicity.

Leonie Milliner, Chief Executive of Association for Nutrition, states:

"Vitamin D deficiency can cause severe health problems yet is easily preventable. Association for Nutrition – the UK voluntary regulator for Registered Nutritionists – supports NICE’s call for national activities to raise awareness of the importance of Vitamin D among doctors, nurses, other practitioners and the public, and better access to dietary supplements containing Vitamin D."

Only a relatively small number of foods contain substantial amounts of Vitamin D. Oily fish including salmon, mackerel and trout contain the largest amounts of Vitamin D. Cod liver oil is a rich source of vitamin D. Smaller amounts are found in eggs. I doubt most of us eat nearly enough of these foods to get our required daily intake. 

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Now unless you are prancing around in your back garden in the sun for 30 minutes a day, cooking up salmon and mackerel for breakfast, lunch and dinner and necking 10 ten tablespoons of cod liver oil a day, then Vitamin D supplementation is essential. IMPORTANTthe only active form of Vitamin D is Vitamin D3. Many supplements contain Vitamin D2 which is not biologically active. 

How much Vitamin D3 you need will vary on age, location, skin colour and other variables. For example if you cover your skin for cultural reasons, you will need a much higher dose. Studies conducted on groups in Orthodox Jewish and Muslim communities show severe deficiencies. Anyone over the age of 65 or pregnant women will also need more Vitamin D3 as will anyone who doesn't get the required amount of exposed sunlight (probably everyone reading this article!)

I advise you to visit your local GP to find out the levels of Vitamin D3 in your system. For optimum health you want 100 to 160 nmol per litre or 40 to 65 ng per millilitre (your doctor will explain what this means!)

If you have a deficiency, you should correct it with 5,000 to 10,000 IU of Vitamin D3 a day for 3 months —  under a doctor’s supervision. For maintenance, take 2,000 to 4,000 IU a day of Vitamin D3. And note, it takes up to 6 to 10 months to stock your levels up if you’re deficient.

Once you get your Vitamin D3 levels up, you'll be astonished at the difference you can feel in your health, well being and happiness. The list of benefits reported and studied are out standing.

IMPORTANT: Please avoid high street chains like Boots, Holland & Barratts and Super Drug as they generally use cheap, synthetic material that has no impact on your health, and can even be detrimental. If you feel you would like to start supplementing with Vitamin D3, I suggest getting your count done with your GP and using a high quality supplement.

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My recommendation for a fantastic bio-available form of Vitamin D3 (the one I use) is from Nature's Sunshine.

This excellent company uses no synthetics and sources natural materials to create their bio-available supplements. With over 600 tests done on their products they are one of the leading high quality and ethical companies dealing with nutrition.

To order this food grade, organic, natural supplement CLICK HERE

I hope you've found this article interesting. I am passionate about helping you realise the potential of your health and happiness. If you have any questions please get in touch. I am always more than happy to chat. And remember you can always book in to come and see me to talk about and check nutritional balancing.

Please feel free to comment and share if you find this information useful and informative. 

Gary x