DOES BEING BRITISH MEAN YOU HAVE LESS VITAMIN D?
If like me you are lucky enough to call yourself British and live in a country that’s weather is as diverse and unpredictable as its people you have probably seen more than a few rainy days, but does all this rain mean we Brits are not getting enough and if so what can we do about it?
The answer is lifestyle dependant, your genes, skin type, diet and geography all means everyone is different.
WHERE DO WE GET VITAMIN D?
Vitamin D can be synthesized by exposure to sun light, absorbed by some foods, dietary supplements, include the list below.
Salmon, baked Salmon red, canned Sardines, canned Mackerel, grilled Tuna, canned Cod, in batter, fried Pollock, baked Lemon sole, grilled Haddock, baked
Lamb, roast Pork, roast Chicken breast, stir fried Calf's liver, fried Beef mince, extra lean, stewed Bacon, grilled
Boiled Fried Scrambled Poached Omelette
Fortified breakfast cereals
Fat spreads Butter
How Much Sun Do I Need?
Getting a healthy balance is different for everyone, some people may require more or less than others.
DOES YOUR SKIN TYPE EFFECT YOUR EXPOSURE NEEDS?
Black men and woman may need more sunlight than white people, however black people are less likely to burn and have lower risk of associated skin cancer.
WHO MAY BE AT HIGHER RISK OF NOT BE GETTING ENOUGH VITAMIN D?
People who are most likely to be lacking in vitamin D include:
People with naturally brown or black skin, for example people of African, Afro-Caribbean or South Asian family origin
People who usually wear clothes that covers up most of their skin when outdoors
People over the age of 65
Pregnant and breastfeeding women
Babies and children aged under 5
People who are not often outdoors, for example in hospital night shift workers or often housebound.
The Government recommends that people within these groups should take a 10 microgram supplement of vitamin D a day throughout the year.
WHEN IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE TIME TO TAKE VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS?
Between October and the end of March the Government also recommend people in the UK consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement. Your body makes vitamin D much less in the winter months in northerly countries such as the UK because the UV isn’t as strong. In summer some vitamin D may be stored to help maintain levels across the year.
Talk to your GP about vitamin D supplements if you are worried about your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is also present in foods such as egg yolks, oily fish like mackerel and sardines, fish liver oils and some fortified cereals.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
According to national surveys in the UK, across the population approximately 1 in 5 people have low vitamin D levels (defined as serum levels below 25 nmol/L).
Low vitamin D levels are associated with a higher risk of poor musculoskeletal health such as rickets, Osteomalacia, falls and poor muscle strength.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, the committee of independent experts that advises Government on matters relating to diet, nutrition and health, reviewed the scientific literature to ascertain whether current vitamin D recommendations were still appropriate.
In the resultant report vitamin D and health, SACN has published new recommendations sufficient to maintain a blood vitamin D level of at least 25 nmol/L in the vast majority (97.5%) of individuals in the UK.
The Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) proposed by SACN for all people aged 4 and above is 10 µg/day. For infants and younger children, data are insufficient to set an RNI. Instead, as a precaution, a ‘Safe Intake’ of 8.5-10 µg/day has been set.
BNF has also produced a number of articles of interest and resources on vitamin D. These include a collaboration with our journal Nutrition Bulletin and the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics for a joint virtual issue, Vitamin D – population requirements, intake and status: implications for health CLICK HERE TO READ MORE INDEPTH and Vital vitamin D, a look at dietary sources of vitamin D.
British Skin Cancer
British Nutrition Foundation
British Nutrition Foundation 2015
British Medical Association
Br Med J 1979 1 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.6158.221
Published 27 January 1979)Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;1:221
Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SCAN) 21st July 2016
Cancer Research UK 20-5-2018
National Health Service 5/11/2018
Wiley Online Library 18 November 2015
J. L. Buttriss
Vitamin D: Sunshine vs. diet vs. pills
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