Finally! The weather is starting to warm up! Time for us to get outdoors to top up our Vitamin D. ☀️
Health professionals have been warning, for some time now, about the prevalence and risks of Vitamin D deficiency in Northern hemisphere countries, but a new report from Trinity College, Dublin, has suggested that a more than a quarter of adults aged 50+ are deficient in Vitamin D, leading to increased risk of falls, broken bones, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, dementia, immune dysfunction, inflammation, diabetes and all-cause mortality.
A previous study, also by Trinity College Dublin, linked Vitamin D deficiency with a 75% increase risk of depression amongst the elderly.  Other studies have shown that low Vitamin D has also been linked with neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia and Multiple Sclerosis.
Vitamin D deficiency is particularly high in those who are more sedentary, obese, from a non-white background, and in poor health. Women are more likely to be deficient than men. Those least likely to be deficient are people who are of a healthy weight, engage in regular vigorous physical activity, and have “sun travel” in the last 12 months, and take Vitamin D supplements. People living the South of the UK also tend to have higher levels than those living in the north. 
The researchers are calling for the use supplements and food fortification.
Vitamin D is such an important nutrient, and it is relatively cheap and easy to test for and to supplement. Potentially the NHS could be saving itself millions each year by testing levels and recommending supplementation at the appropriate dose.
What is the appropriate dose? That’s a good question. The standard reference range on a Vitamin D test is quite broad: 50 – 150 nmol/l. Deficiency is usually classified as less than 30nmol/l. However, nutritional therapists/naturopaths like to see levels of at least 75nmol/l and more like 100 for optimal health. If you’re having your Vitamin D levels checked with your GP, it’s worth asking what your level was. The standard dose for adults is 2000 iu’s per day, but if your level on testing is less than 50nmol/l, it may be worth taking a higher dose in the short term to boost your levels, before moving on to a maintenance dose of 2000 iu’s.
The format of Vitamin D is also important.
We are designed to get most of our Vitamin D from the sun. There are some foods that contain Vitamin D such as oily fish, eggs, butter, mushrooms, milk, cheese but even if you are consuming these regularly, you could get no more than 10% of our requirement from our food. Our digestion is not the best way to get this essential nutrient, therefore tablets that need to go through the digestive process are not necessarily the best way to take Vit D. Sprays and drops which are absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth straight into the blood stream, are a much more efficient way of delivering Vitamin D to your tissues.
But the sun is still the best way to top up your Vitamin D, and we’ve all become scared of the sun because of the risk of skin cancer. Ironically, Vitamin D is important to protect us against all cancers – including skin cancer! So sensible exposure is key. 20 minutes per day without sunscreen is recommended.
So get out the summer clothes that have stayed at the back of the wardrobe so far this year, spend time outside, and enjoy the sun (while we can!) Eat plenty of Vitamin D containing foods (see above) and consider taking a supplement.