vitamin dWith summer well underway, the hot topic for many of us Brits will certainly be the weather. Like many years before it, the summer of 2015 is failing to live up to expectations, with sun worshippers having to head a little further afield to catch some rays. A good tan however isn’t the only thing that goes hand-in-hand with soaring temperatures.

Vitamin D – are we really getting enough?

Well, according to recent research conducted by the scientific advisory committee on nutrition (SACN), an independent advisory body to the government, the answer to this question is – no!

The SACN recently released new recommendations for vitamin D supplements, a necessity for individuals in the UK looking to give a much needed boost to their vitamin D levels without relying on the great British weather. The SACN’s findings revealed that British weather isn’t providing us with healthy amounts of this essential vitamin, whilst food sources in which vitamin D naturally occurs are also failing to hit the mark, two factors that leave a vast proportion, if not all, of the UK population at risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency.

The SACN suggests that everyone should take a vitamin D supplement, after the general assumption that adults received all the vitamin D they needed from the sun was disproved.

How can a deficiency affect your overall health?

Vitamin D is essential and plays a major role in bone and muscle health. This vitamin has a number of important functions within the human body. As well as regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate to keep bones and teeth healthy, vitamin D can also prevent conditions that cause bone deformities, pain and tenderness such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.

Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked with a number of other health issues, such as cancer, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and musculoskeletal problems.

Are some people more at risk than others?

Whilst the recommendations set out by the SACN apply to everyone, there are some groups that are more at risk than others. Around one in five people are diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, however pregnant women, children under five, adults over 65 and people with darker skin tones are deemed more at risk. Those who do not expose their skin to the sun on a regular basis would also benefit from taking a daily vitamin D supplement and making some lifestyle changes to avoid the troubling effects that are associated with deficiency.

What steps can be taken to avoid vitamin D deficiency?

Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, there’s no doubt that vitamin D plays an important role within the body. However, getting enough of it is proving difficult for individuals throughout the UK. It’s not just the sun that provides a good source of vitamin D, by making a few alterations to your diet you can increase your intake.

Oily fish, eggs, fortified fat spreads, fortified breakfast cereals and some powdered milks can provide the boost you need.

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