What to do if there’s no sun!
With so many colds around at this time of year, it was good to see that a scientific paper (1) reviewing a number of clinical trials on vitamin D hit the headlines last week. It concluded that Vitamin D supplementation can prevent acute respiratory tract infections such as colds, bronchitis and pneumonia by supporting the immune system.
This isn’t entirely new news to nutritional therapists, but it’s fantastic when positive scientific evidence adds further weight to the argument of the importance of Vitamin D. The research states that the most pronounced protective effect of supplementation was seen in those patients will the lowest baseline serum vitamin D test results, and in those patients who took a regular daily or weekly dose of vitamin D supplements rather than ad hoc high doses.
As well as supporting the immune system, vitamin D is crucial for maintaining bone density, reducing the risk of certain cancers, supporting cognitive function and reducing the risk of inflammatory conditions including Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
So what is the optimum level and how much do you need to take?
The answer may be different for each person. My recommendation would be to take a reliable test initially to measure your levels. As well as being too low, if you’ve been supplementing for a long time or at high doses, your levels could be too high, which can be toxic.
If you’re fair skinned and regularly exposed to the sun, you may have higher levels of Vitamin D than someone with dark skin, or who covers their skin for religious purposes, and has less sun exposure. Some people also have genetic mutations, which affect their ability to utilise vitamin D despite regular supplementation.
The government recommends 10mcg/400 iu per day for everyone with short bursts of sun exposure in the summer months, and acknowledges that we may not be able to obtain sufficient levels through diet alone. However, this may not be an appropriate amount for many people. Depending on your health status, your ‘optimum’ level may be higher than the accepted ‘adequate’ level.
In the first instance it is worthwhile asking your GP to test your vitamin D levels. However, sometimes they are unable to do this.
In my clinic, I recommend a simple NHS Test, which costs £28 and can be ordered from http://www.vitamindtest.org.uk.
If you have Vitamin D test results from your GP, or you complete the above test, I am happy to offer a free 15-minute phone consultation to discuss your results and suggest an appropriate level of supplementation and give advice for you going forward.
Please just give me a call on 07909 732017
Here’s to optimum health, less colds and a summer of sunshine!