A government-commissioned report, carried out by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), advises everyone to look for alternative sources of vitamin D, with usual sources proving less fruitful than previously thought.
Now, public health officials say people should consider getting vitamin D from supplements if their diet is unlikely to provide it.
Vitamin D is needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy and is also important in aiding your immune system.
Our primary source of vitamin D comes from the action of sunlight on the skin, where UV radiation facilitates the production of vitamin D in the body. Small amounts of the vitamin are also found in foods such as various meats, oily fish, eggs and fortified cereals, however the levels found in these foods are not enough to compensate for the lack of sunlight our bodies see in winter months. Official estimates now suggest as many as one in five adults and one in six children in England may have low levels.
The main function of vitamin D is to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which in turn are needed for healthy muscles, bones and teeth. It is also used to benefit the immune system through puncturing holes in bacteria and viruses. A report published by the British Medical Journal in February estimated that over 3 million people in the UK could be spared the cold or flu every year if they took a vitamin D supplement. As a result of their findings the researchers want vitamin D to be fortified in everyday foods like milk, the way it is in the US. Although health officials and experts are split on whether the report offers conclusive evidence that everyday foods need fortifying with vitamin D, most agree that the findings were “worthy of serious further debate”. Evidence has also suggested that Vitamin D might have an impact on cancers, cardiovascular disease and multiple sclerosis, however more evidence is needed to draw firm conclusions.
Over 20% of the UK population could be low in a vitamin that’s required for the normal functioning of your immune system and muscles.
Public Health England (PHE) advises everyone take vitamin D supplements in autumn and winter, and recommend supplements all year round for young children and people who get little sunlight on their skin. This comes amid new evidence that vitamin D received during the summer months in the UK is not enough to carry us through the winter. Consuming foods fortified with vitamin D is also one way to increase your levels of vitamin D without having to swallow massive pills. If you can’t get your hands on any vitamin D fortified foods, the YourZooki range allows the fortification of your own foods with Zooki - easily mixed into smoothies, yoghurts, porridge, protein shakes, cereals or even water. The range offers a solution to those who struggle or simply don’t want to supplement their diet with massive pills.
What the experts have concluded:
Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal teeth.
Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal muscle function.
Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones.
Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system.
Vitamin D contributes to normal blood calcium levels.
Vitamin D contributes to normal absorption/utilisation of calcium and phosphorous.
Vitamin D has a role in the process of cell division.
Vitamin D is needed for normal growth and development of bones in children.
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