Nutritional Therapist London UK Jill Barber Life To The Power Of Food
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Vitamin D

Hurrah the sun is out, for the moment at least, it’s time to dose up on Vitamin D.

But is it that easy?

The vitamin D status of the UK population has been assessed since 2001 as part of The National Diet and Nutrition Survey.  According to this data a large portion of the general population are deficient or have insufficient levels of vitamin D and certain population groups are at particularly high risk.

The major source of vitamin D for humans is exposure to sunlight. Several factors reduce the ability to synthesise vitamin D from sun exposure including living in far northern and southern latitudes, dark skin, increasing age, indoor and city living and sun protection such as sunscreen, we also need enough cholesterol to convert the sun to vitamin D in the body. Even in countries with very high amounts of sunlight and close proximity to the equator vitamin D deficiency prevalence is still very high.

It has generally been thought that as little as 15 
minutes of direct sunlight on the skin can produce significant increases in vitamin D levels, but recent research has challenged this conventional 
wisdom. For example, from the latitude of San Francisco northward or from 
Buenos Aires southward for 3 to 6 months years, no amount of exposure will generate substantial vitamin D in even the palest skin.  The European equivalent of the latitude of San Francisco is the Mediterranean countries – so where does that leave the UK?

The rule of thumb is if you have regular sun exposure and sunbathe once a week, year around, you may be getting sufficient Vitamin D.

Few foods are sources of vitamin D and food sources alone are insufficient to meet daily vitamin D requirements. Salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, trout, and fresh but not tinned tuna are particularly rich sources with wild salmon providing 500–1000 IU vitamin D per 100 g and farmed salmon providing 100–250 IU per 100g serving. To put this in perspective, an adult would need to eat 2-4 servings of wild salmon a day to maintain daily vitamin D requirements.

Fortification of foods with vitamin D in the United Kingdom is limited to margarines, some breakfast cereals, some processed cheeses and yogurts and these are fortified with negligible amounts.

There are two major dietary forms of vitamin D - vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) 
and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is the form most often added to foods and is sometimes used in nutritional 
supplements, but this form isn’t found naturally in the body. However vitamin D3 is in human form so the body recognises it.

So how do you check your levels? Well the good news is, that you can get a Vitamin D3 test from your GP. If you need anymore information, do get in touch with me.