What’s vitamin D got to do with Self Care Week? Dr David Paynton, GP, Self Care Forum Board member and RCGP National Clinical Lead has the facts at his fingertips…
During late spring and summer, our bodies create their own vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin.
But in autumn and winter, when the sun is lower, the correct wavelength of light doesn’t make its way through the atmosphere, and our ability to create this essential nutrient is paused.
To mitigate the effects of reduced sunlight, NHS Choices and Public Health England recommend that everyone should take a 10µg (micrograms) vitamin D supplement every day through autumn and winter. It’s essential for the health and wellbeing of our bones and teeth and helps maintain good muscle function.
There is growing evidence that low levels of vitamin D may play a role in other health related areas including autoimmune diseases, depression and various cancers.
Taking a supplement is an excellent example of self care, preventing health deficiencies and mitigating low vitamin D levels during the autumn and winter months.
Although awareness of the need for vitamin D is growing slowly, among the public and healthcare professionals, there remains confusion about who should take it, how much should be taken, for how long, and where to get it.
In the autumn and winter, everyone should take a 10µg vitamin D supplement every day.
Babies and young children up to the age of four should take a food supplement containing between 7-8.5µg every day all year round because they are growing very fast and their bones need daily vitamin D to grow strong and healthy.
As for where to buy vitamin D, it is widely available in supplement form at pharmacies, health food stores and many supermarkets.
Where patients present with a collection of symptoms which could be linked to vitamin D deficiency, healthcare practitioners would be advised in the first instance to recommend the purchase and consumption of vitamin D supplements.
If patients take these supplements for a month and find symptoms diminish or vanish altogether, the issue is resolved without the need for prescriptions or further investigation.
Either way, vitamin D is essential for our health and wellbeing and, while its functions are only now being fully understood, taking the recommended 10µg as a food supplement can none-the-less help us all stay healthy. Isn’t that what self-care is all about?
Self Care Week is organised by the Self Care Forum, a charity that aims to further the reach of self care and embed it in everyday life.
This year, Self Care Week runs 12 – 18 November with the theme:
Choose Self Care for Life.
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