A recent survey showed that more than 50% of the UK’s adult population has insufficient vitamin D levels. Very few foods contain vitamin D and those that do, such as oily fish, egg yolks, and fortified milk, don’t contain enough to provide optimal amounts on a daily basis. Our major source of vitamin D is sunshine – we make it in our skin when it’s exposed to the sun.
However, in recent years, the fear of skin cancer has minimised our exposure to the sun, especially for children. The use of sunscreen prevents the production of vitamin D which has contributed to the epidemic proportions of vitamin D deficiency in our population.
Why is vitamin D so important?Vitamin D promotes healthy bones and regulates your immune system so plays a critical role in reducing your risk of illness or disease such as type 1 diabetes, muscle and bone pain, high blood pressure, heart attack, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, and cancer.
How to get vitamin D safelyTo maximise your body’s production of vitamin D and to stay safe in the sun, go out in the UK summer sun as close to midday as possible without sunscreen for between 10 to 15 minutes – this is enough time to make vitamin D but less than the time it takes to redden or burn.
Ideally expose as much skin as possible – the more skin that’s in the sun, the greater the production of vitamin D – so ideally get your back or tummy out several times a week.
Between September and April, due to the angle of the sun, the vitamin D producing UBV rays can’t get through so it is recommended to supplement vitamin D during these months.