With the recent dramatic rise in temperature we are currently experiencing in the UK, the campaign for staying safe in the sunshine by using adequate sunscreen has been robustly imprinted in most people’s minds. And rightly so. The dangers of sun exposure have proven links to skin cancer and premature ageing, so making sure that you cover up correctly is essential to your health. However, given that vitamin D comes from our skin having direct contact with sunlight, it is interesting to note that 1 in 5 of people living in the UK are actually deficient in vitamin D.
Our bodies undergo a complex chemical reaction when sunlight hits our skin, ultimately converting UVB rays into the hormone version of vitamin D that we can utilise. It breaks down quite quickly, however, meaning that stores can run very low during extended periods of low sunlight. Advances in sunscreen mean that we can often remain deficient in vitamin D even throughout the summertime.
Signs you may be vitamin D deficient:
Muscle weakness and aching bones
Suffering from repeated colds and coughs
A simple blood test requested from your GP can determine if you require a supplement, which is easily accessible and affordable. It is important to determine if you may be deficient because vitamin D is vital to maintain healthy functions in various parts of the body. A deficiency can delay children’s development and cause a condition called rickets if left untreated. A deficiency can also increase the risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease, particularly in young children.
Known as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D enables the body to absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet, meaning that it helps the body to:-
support our immune system, brain and nervous system
support lung function and cardiovascular health
aid diabetes management by regulating insulin levels
maintain health of bones and teeth
influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development
So how can you safely keep your vitamin D levels topped up?
Government health advisors recommend boosting our levels with supplements. This is the most quick and effective way to get low levels back up to a proper functioning standard.
Health experts have estimated that sensible sun exposure for no more than 10 minutes on bare skin 2-3 times per week allows most people to produce sufficient vitamin D.
We cannot make enough vitamin D through diet alone, but eating some fatty fish like tuna, mackerel or salmon every now and again will help to boost your levels.
Choose fortified food options, often found in certain breakfast cereals and juices and a few dairy products such as milk, cheese and egg yolks.
We are more than happy to examine your teeth and gums if you have any concerns as to whether a vitamin D deficiency has impacted your oral health. Please give us a call on 020 7935 3323 and we can book you in for an appointment here at the practice.
In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy the sunshine!