It’s incredibly important to maintain a good level of vitamin D.
This important vitamin helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body – the nutrients needed to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children and bone pain caused by osteomalacia in adults, so it’s important to keep a healthy level.
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Government advice is that you should consider taking a vitamin D supplement throughout the autumn and winter months, and, according to the NHS, people at high risk of not getting enough of the vitamin should take a daily supplement throughout the year.
However, there are also some other good sources of vitamin D that can get your levels back up. We’ve taken a look at some below.
How to tell if your vitamin D levels are low
The NHS states that you’re more likely to experience low levels of vitamin D is you don’t get enough sun exposure. This could be because you are housebound, live in a care home, work late shifts, or simply live in a place that doesn’t get much sun.
You’re also more at risk if you have dark skin, according to Lloyd’s Pharmacy, who say that people with darker skin (eg those of African, African-Caribbean, or South Asian descent) need to spend more time in the sun to stimulate an adequate production of vitamin D.
Those who follow a vegan diet might also be prone to deficiency, as many foods that are rich in vitamin D, such as oily fish and egg yolks, aren’t suitable for vegans.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:
Getting ill regularly
Good levels of vitamin D can help maintain the immune system, according to Lloyd’s Pharmacy, which will help fight off infections like colds or the flu.
If you notice yourself regularly getting sick, this could be a sign of low levels of vitamin D.
Tiredness and fatigue
Another common symptom of low vitamin D levels is feeling very tired, to the point of exhaustion.
Bone and lower back pain
Vitamin D helps keep bones healthy, and a deficiency can lead to bone pain. This is commonly felt as pain in the lower back.
Muscle aches and pains
Low vitamin D can also lead to muscle aches and pain.
How can I increase my levels of vitamin D?
Getting more sunlight
Sunlight is our primary source of vitamin D, especially during the spring and summer months. The body is stimulated to produce vitamin D when UVB rays in sunlight make contact with our skin.
It’s not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body’s requirements, as a number of factors can affect how vitamin D is made, such as how much skin is exposed.
It’s important to get outside, as the NHS says that your body can’t make vitamin D if you’re sitting indoors by a sunny window because UVB rays can’t get through the glass.
Lloyds Pharmacy recommends spending some time outdoors every day with your hands, forearms, or lower legs exposed and no sunscreen on your skin – but you should be careful not to let yourself burn.
Eating more oily fish
Vitamin D can be found in a range of oily fish including salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines.
Eating egg yolks
Egg yolks are another good source of vitamin D and hens that have been reared outdoors or fed a vitamin D rich diet contain the most.
An easy way to up your vitamin D levels is by taking supplements – but you shouldn’t take them as a substitute for a balanced and varied diet, or a healthy lifestyle.
Supplements come in a range of forms, including liquid drops, tablets, oral sprays, and gummies for children.
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