An interesting article popped up in the Daily Mail on 15th October. The article reported on a study which indicates the true level of Vitamin D deficiency in the UK. This study shows that one in nine people in the UK are classed as ‘deficient’ and two thirds as ‘severely lacking’.
* Vitamin D, also know as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, is generated by sunlight
* In the UK more that 70% of people spend most of their day indoors
* Deficiency can cause rickets, migraines, depression and joint pain
It used to be thought that Vitamin D was only needed for bone health and the prevention of rickets. But in recent years, fresh research has revealed the important role that Vitamin D plays in maintaining good health.
Vitamin D boosts the immune system, and without sufficient intake, the body’s cells are not able to react and fight off serious infections in the body. But the survey by BetterYou found that 77 per cent of adults spend most of their day indoors in office jobs, seldom seeing the sunshine.
Over 70 per cent of people questioned in the survey for BetterYou said they spend most of their day indoors, a factor which can contribute to a deficiency in Vitamin D.
Office lifestyles have contributed to the British vitamin D epidemic, with people spending less time in the sunshine than ever before.
Common medical conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, bone pain, muscle pain, joint pain, migraines, skin pigmentation problems and even rickets. Many people with a vitamin D deficiency can develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and may become depressed.
The findings, announced ahead of a National Vitamin D Awareness Week which runs from Monday 29 October to Sunday 4 November, suggest a massive proportion of the UK population are at risk of these debilitating symptoms.
Of those diagnosed as severely deficient, 71 per cent do not take any form of supplement – highlighting a clear link between deficiency and supplementation.
The findings come from a survey by health pioneers BetterYou, who are supporting National Vitamin D Awareness Week, which aims to raise public understanding of the dangers of deficiency.
Andrew Thomas, founder and managing director at BetterYou, said: ‘Our findings further confirm what we have long suspected, that our nation is far more deficient in vitamin D than we would care to admit.
‘Almost ninety per cent of people interviewed provided either classic symptoms of advanced vitamin D deficiency or listed multiple lifestyle conditions which would predispose them to be deficient. These include a combination of having darker skin pigmentation, spending daylight hours indoors and excessive use of UV sun cream.
‘These findings simply reinforce our support of the UK’s first National Vitamin D Awareness Week.
The subject has been discussed in the House of Commons, leading to “at risk” groups being identified and supplementation recommendations made by our Department of Health.
Earlier this year the Chief Medical Officer for England, Dame Sally Davies announced her concerns to health professionals regarding a rise in vitamin D-related conditions, asking them to consider vitamin D supplementation for at risk groups, including pregnant mothers.
Following this, it was announced by Labour MP Kate Green in September, that cases of rickets have increased more than 400 per cent since 1996.
I can’t believe that this problem only exists in the U.K. If you spend the majority of your time indoors, then you are potentially Vitamin D deficient. I think this has massive implications for children and particularly the elderly who may not be able to go out.
Ideally, you want around 20 minutes a day exposure to sunlight without sunscreen. Sunscreen simply blocks the production of Vitamin D and there’s evidence coming to light that sunscreens may actually be bad for our health. More of that another time.
If you think that you are in the “at risk” group, it’s worth supplementing your diet with Vitamin D3.
If you spend a lot of your time indoors, or you’ve been in the habit of slapping on sunscreen to protect your skin, you may be deficient in Vitamin D.
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