It doesn’t take much to be at risk of low levels of Vitamin D. Assess your lifestyle factors and find out what you can do to boost your Vitamin D.
90% of the Vitamin D your body needs every day doesn’t come from the food you eat. It is produced when your skin gets direct contact from the sun’s UVB rays. That’s why getting enough sunlight on your skin is so important for healthy Vitamin D3 levels. And it’s also why many of us can suffer from low levels, or even deficiency, of this vitamin.
Who is most at risk?
If your lifestyle limits you to sunlight for any reason, you could end up being one of the many who are deficient. Here are some factors you may want to take into account if you think you may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency:
Where you live
Some parts of the world get more sunshine than others and unfortunately, the UK is one of the many places with limited sunshine! Even some parts of the UK will get less strong sunshine than others.
The main factor affecting how much Vitamin D3 you produce is exposure to sunshine. Where do you live? If your part of the world doesn’t get much sunshine, you could be lacking in Vitamin D. This is particularly true in winter. Short daylight hours, gloomy weather, and overcast days will all affect how much Vitamin D your body can produce.
Cloudy, overcast, rainy days naturally mean less UVB from the sun makes it through to your skin.
Your daily routine
If you don’t get outside much during periods of sunlight, your ability to produce Vitamin D will be affected. Assess your own lifestyle and routine to see if this applies to you. If you walk your dog, work outside, or play outdoor sport then you might be fine. If you are housebound for any reason (including illness, convalescence, or nursing a new baby), you are unlikely to get enough sunshine. Shift workers and busy office or factory workers will also have limited sunshine.
Unless you have your forearms, lower legs, hands, and face uncovered, your skin will not be able to absorb UVB rays. If you cover up for any religious, lifestyle, or work reason, your Vitamin D levels will be affected.
Your skin pigment
Dark skin is better at buffering UV rays, which means you will produce less Vitamin D even if you spend plenty of time outside in the sunshine.
Most dietary Vitamin D comes from animal sources. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you are likely to be low in Vitamin D. Be sure to eat fortified foods, and supplement with a Vitamin D product all year round.
Boost your Vitamin D3 levels
Get outside as much as you can during sunny weather and daylight hours. Just 10 minutes per day with some skin exposed (hands and forearms is enough) will boost Vitamin D. If you struggle to get outside, take a quality Vitamin D3 supplement. This will give you peace of mind that you are meeting the latest health guidelines.
The only way to get your Vitamin D levels checked is through a medical blood test. If you are worried, ask your Doctor for advice. A daily Vitamin D3 supplement is a reliable and cost-effective way to keep your Vitamin D levels high all year round.
Can I have too much Vitamin D?
We all need enough Vitamin D, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
It’s almost impossible to get too much Vitamin D from your diet or from sunlight. Food sources can only deliver a limited amount of the vitamin. And your body is great at regulating its own Vitamin D. Any extra produced by exposure to sunshine is stored in your body fat for dark winter months.
Know your doses
The main risk of Vitamin D overload comes from a misguided approach to supplementation. The most extreme levels of overdosing on Vitamin D in supplement form is called hypervitaminosis D. Toxicity is rare, but could be serious. It’s easy to avoid: be aware of your supplement’s dose, and only take the recommended daily amount.
The latest Government guidelines from Public Health England suggest 10 micrograms (400 IU) of Vitamin D for adults and children aged 12+ months. If you stay within these guidelines, you are unlikely to experience any ill-effects. The only caveat to this would be if your body lacks the ability to absorb or utilise Vitamin D.
Choose a Vitamin D supplement that is clearly labelled with information you understand. Don’t exceed the recommended daily dose.
What are the risks?
If you were to take too much Vitamin D from a supplement (or from large doses of cod liver oil), you are at risk of high levels of calcium in your blood. The medical term for this is hypercalcemia. It could result in nausea and constipation. It could also affect your mental capacity, leaving you feeling fuzzy-headed and confused. In extreme cases, it could lead to kidney stones.