Clinically established vitamin D deficiency (hypovitaminosis) is becoming a global concern (regardless of latitude i.e. sun exposure) and improvement in intake of vitamin D across the UK population is fast becoming a health priority.
Previous concerns about deficiencies have been associated with poor bone health, most notably the development of Rickets, a condition which is again on the increase according to national statistics. However the observations from the most recent large cohort studies have unraveled other key physiological roles of this vitamin and a causative relationship between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of cancers, pre-eclampsia, diabetes, CVD, autoimmune diseases and the flu.
Why supplement with Vitamin D?
Today about 50% of Europeans are estimated to be deficient in vitamin D3. An even greater prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency is documented in the senior population, especially those institutionalized or frail, those with a darker skin tone, those who are obese, pregnant, have mal-absorption due to other nutrient deficiencies (especially the trace minerals), or wear sun protective clothing due to religious or other reasons. Sunshine is arguably not a reliable source, since sufficient solar radiation depends on the season and there are associated risks of skin ageing and cancer. Notably, all of Europe gets insufficient UVB intensity during the months November to the end of March, resulting in minimal skin production of this crucial vitamin during the winter season, independent of age. As its half-life is 3 to 6 weeks the seasonal peak in late summer decreases rapidly with a steep decline over the winter months. Additionally, skin production of vitamin D declines with age, leaving seniors with a 4-times lower capacity to produce it in their skin compared to younger adults. The use of sunscreen and sun protective clothing reduces skin production of the vitamin, independent of age. More than 50% of post-menopausal women with osteoporosis have suboptimal levels. The widespread use of statins, may also further exacerbate deficiency and the cost of associated treatment. Alternatively, natural nutritional food sources of vitamin D are rare.
A great supplement to support this is our Food-Grown® Vitamin D, which provides this essential nutrient in a live, raw, highly absorbable 'food-form'. This naturally includes all forms of vitamin D, including vitamin D3, D2 and D1. A study conducted showed that the Food-Grown® version includes both the ‘stored’ (25-hydroxy) and biologically ‘active’ (1-25 hydroxy) forms. The body will always need to convert any ‘stored’ form of vitamin D3 into the ‘active’ form for it to do its various jobs like supporting calcium absorption. This makes supplementing in the ‘active’ form preferential. A highly absorbable and biologically active form may also minimize the need for ‘mega dosing’.
How much do I need?
The Department of Health recommends:
- Everyone over the age of four should take 10 micrograms (400 iu) of vitamin D every day, particularly from October to March.
- All pregnant, breastfeeding women and at-risk groups (such as people from ethnic minority groups with dark skin, elderly people in care homes and those who wear clothing that cover most the skin) should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (400iu) of vitamin D. Consider that many people in the UK do not get good access to consistent sunlight due to work and 'typical British' summer weather.
- All babies from birth up to one year of age should take 8.5 to 10 micrograms per day (particularly those being breastfed).
- Babies fed infant formula will not need vitamin drops until they are receiving less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, as these products are fortified with vitamin D.
- Children between the age of one and four should take 10 micrograms of vitamin D supplements all year round.
- People aged 65 years and over and people not exposed to much sun should also take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (400iu).
Its important to comprehend that more than 400 iu (10ug) may be safely taken by adults - since recommendations are to make sure people meet minimum requirements. Individual requirements will of course vary and some may need more than 400 iu (10ug), especially if your levels are low.
Our vitamin D supplement is 25ug (1,000 iu) in two capsules (each capsule is 500iu). This may be safely taken by most adults but pregnant or breastfeeding women or anyone else unclear on how much to take, may speak to our in-house technical team is you have questions over dosage levels.