In July 2016 Public Health England updated their guidance on vitamin D and recommended that everyone over the age of one should take 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day during autumn and winter. Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell confirmed that Scotland would adopt this same recommendation, but wouldn’t recommend it for babies under six months as they believe babies get enough vitamin D from breast milk or formula.
The reason behind this recommendation is because we’re not getting enough vitamin D throughout the year through sunlight alone.
In spring and summer when the sun is out (yes, really!) we get enough vitamin D from the sun, but it’s in the autumn and winter months when we struggle.
This is especially true in Scotland where in December we get just over seven hours of daylight a day. That’s a lot of darkness.
We need vitamin D so our bones, muscles and teeth stay healthy. Its main function is to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, and without it our bones become misshapen and brittle.
In severe cases not having enough vitamin D can cause rickets in children. This is where the bones become soft and weaken as they grow.
In adults a lack of vitamin D has been linked to osteomalacia, which causes severe bone pain and muscle aches.
Our body creates vitamin D when the skin comes into contact with the sun. We can also get vitamin D from oily fish – like salmon, herring and sardines – red meat and eggs. However, just eating more of these foods during the darker months isn’t enough to offset the lack of sunshine.
Taking it every day means we increase our chances of having healthy teeth, bones and muscles.
Most of the vitamin D we make is from March/April to September. However, once autumn arrives, the sun starts setting earlier and we start covering up more. As a result we don’t get enough sunlight on our skin to make the vitamin D our bodies need.
Most of us will get enough sun exposure during the spring and summer, but won’t make enough vitamin D from food alone during the autumn and winter, which is why it is recommended we take supplements during autumn and winter.
However, if you cover up or apply sunscreen the moment you go outside in the spring and summer, you’re probably not getting enough vitamin D and should take supplements all year round. If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or are over 65 you should be taking vitamin D supplements all year round too.
The recommendations also say that people whose skin has little or no exposure to the sun, like those in care homes, or who always cover their skin when outside, risk vitamin D deficiency and need to take a supplement throughout the year. Ethnic minority groups with dark skin, from African, Afro-Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds, may not get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the summer and should also consider taking a supplement all year round.
In short, from us!
In response to our patients’ questions and so we can help our patients’ live their healthiest life, we sell a vitamin D spray you can use all year round. It’s sprayed into the mouth so it enters the body via the mouth’s soft tissue, which means it gets quickly into your bloodstream. Sprays work faster than tablets and are really easy to use.
We only sell vitamin D sprays by Better You as we believe these are the best sprays on the market. The sprays are 15ml and will give you 75micrograms of vitamin D. They cost £10 each.
You can buy them on our website or just pop into our practices in Paisley or Glasgow, where you can buy them from reception.