Why its the time of year to start checking if you're getting enough!
A new analysis published in the British Medical Journal in February this year (2017) reviewed 25 randomised controlled trials, and highlighted how vitamin D supplements may help to prevent colds and flu in as many as 3 million people every year.
Many people used to think of Vitamin D as important in just bone health. However, Vitamin D plays an important role in the immune system, by helping to induce antimicrobial peptides which help to fight bacteria and viruses.
Yet because vitamin D is made in the skin in response to sunlight, many people have low levels in the winter.
Public Health England recommends that everyone in the UK take a daily supplement of vitamin D between October and March, and certain groups all year round.
The analysis showed that daily or weekly doses had a protective effect against acute respiratory tract infections, whereas large super-doses did not.
Vitamin D FAQ’s
How long do I need to take vitamin D for?
Our body naturally makes large amounts of vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunshine but living in the UK we tend not to get enough exposure. Therefore it is ideal to supplement with a maintenance dose of 1000-2000iu long term or especially between the months of October to March when our exposure to sunlight is low.
At what age should you start taking vitamin D?
Vitamin D can be taken from birth. Ensuring children get their daily requirement of vitamin D is imperative as deficiency can cause a condition called rickets. This is a condition that affects bone development in children causing the bones to become soft and weak, leading to bone deformities. The daily requirement for children is 400-600iu but the daily optimum is 1000iu.(1)
What other nutrients does vitamin D support?
Vitamin D works best alongside some other nutrients known as cofactors. The most important nutrients include magnesium, vitamin K, zinc, boron and vitamin A.
Which vitamin D supplement should I take?
Vitamin D as cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is the best way to supplement as this is the form made by the body in response to sunlight.
Should you include vitamin K in your supplements?
Vitamin D and vitamin K are two nutrients that work very closely together. Whereas vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, vitamin K is important in making sure that the calcium derived from food and supplements is used in the bones.
Martineau A et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. British Medical Journal 2017; 356:i6583