This week is national vitamin D awareness week. Admittedly not the most exciting week in your calendar but an important one as we enter winter proper and all become sunlight-deprived vampires.
Vitamin D is a vital vitamin for immunity (particularly prevention of organ cancers), bone strength (deficiency is a common cause of osteoperosis) and mental health (a possible cause of SAD) and has undoubtedly many other undiscovered health benefits.
However unlike a lot of other micronutrients, we only get a very small amount of our required vitamin D intake from our food. Instead our bodies are cleverly designed to manufacture it in our skin when exposed to sunlight and if we're making too much we are also able to store vitamin D during the summertime to use over the winter months - all in all a pretty clever system.
Well at least it was a great system for our ancestors who didn't have to spend all day in the office. A combination of being indoors most of the time, wearing clothes (thankfully!), increased use of sunscreen and living in the cloudiest country in the industrialized world (depressing I know) means we don't stand a chance of producing the optimal amounts.
As a result the incidence of rickets, a bone deformity in children due to insufficient vitamin D, has risen 400% in the UK since 1996 and cases of premature bone weakening are also on the rise.
Under 5s, the elderly and pregnant women are most at risk but due to the fact we can't get enough from vitamin D from our foods, and that a lot of the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can go undetected for along time, I think everyone should take a good vitamin D supplement over winter.
I always take Biocare vitasorb vitamin D drops daily from late september to May and that way I don't need to show any skin until spring!