WHAT IS VITAMIN D?
Vitamin D is a prohormone that helps increase the absorption and regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Even if we eat foods containing alot of calcium and phosphorus, without enough vitamin D we cannot absorb them into the body.
VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY.
Too little vitamin D results in soft bones in children (rickets). In adults it results in fragile misshapen bones (osteomalacia).
Researchers are now discovering that vitamin D may be important for other reasons outside of good bone health. For example vitamin D may help with;
> The immune system - helps fight infection. > Muscle function. > Cardiovascular function for healthy heart and circulation. > The respiratory system for healthy lungs and airways. > Brain development.
Further research has shown that some signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may include;
> Getting sick or infected often especially with colds or the flu. > Fatigue and tiredness. > Bone and lower back pain. > Depression. > Impaired wound healing - slow healing of wounds after surgery or injury. > Bone loss - low bone mineral density. > Hair loss. > Muscle pain.
WHERE DO WE GET VITAMIN D FROM?
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when we are outdoors. From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.
(ALWAYS KEEP SKIN SAFE AND PROTECTED IN THE SUN)!
We can also get vitamin D from a small number of foods including ;
> Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines). > Red meat. > Eggs
Vitamin D is also added to all infant formula milk as well as some breakfast cereals, fat spreads and non-dairy milk alternatives.
In the winter months (October to early March) sunlight in the UK doesn't contain enough UVB radiation for our skin to be able to make enough Vitamin D. It's during these months that we rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources and supplements.
According to the Department of Health (DoH);
Babies and children under 6 months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. (ALWAYS KEEP CHILDREN'S SKIN SAFE AND PROTECTED IN THE SUN)!
To ensure they get enough Vitamin D, babies and children under 5yrs should be given vitamin D supplements even if they do get out in the sun.
Babies from birth to 1yr of age who are being breastfed should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms (340IU to 400IU) of vitamin D to make sure they get enough. This is whether or not breastfeeding mother is already taking a supplement containing vitamin D.
Babies fed infant formula should not be given a vitamin D supplement if they are having more then 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day because infant formula is fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients.
Children aged 1 - 4yrs should be given a daily supplement of 10micrograms of vitamin D.
Women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start Scheme can get free supplements containing recommended amounts of vitamin D, check out the website for more information.
For adults and children over 5yrs (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) the Department of Health recommend taking a daily supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D.
However.. Taking a daily supplement of 10 micrograms throughout the whole year is recommended for individuals who;
> Are not often outdoors - e.g if you are frail or housebound. > Are in an institute like a care home. > Usually wear clothes that cover up most of the skin when outdoors.
The maximum amount of vitamin D for adults including pregnant and breastfeeding women, the elderly and children aged 11- 17yrs is 100 micrograms a day.
Children aged 1- 10yrs, no more than 50 micrograms a day.
Infants under 12 months no more than 25 micrograms a day.
HOWEVER... if your doctor has recommended a different amount of vitamin D please follow their advice.
CAN I BUY VITAMIN D OVER THE COUNTER?
Vitamin D supplements are available to buy at any pharmacy, supermarket and most health food shops.
They are available in various forms including tablets and capsules some of which are suitable for vegetarians, vegans and gluten free consumers.
They are also available in liquid and chewable forms for both adults and children.
Available strengths range from 10 micrograms (400IU) to 75 micrograms (3000IU) and sometimes more.
If you have any further questions our pharmacists here at QuickPharm are ready to help.
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