Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin

Dear Patients,

With the change of seasons into Autumn, the team from Carlingford Epping Surgery would like to share some information on Vitamin D to ensure you maintain your optimum health to live your best life.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a nutrient you need for good health. It helps your body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks for strong bones. Together with calcium, Vitamin D helps protect you from developing osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens the bones and makes them more likely to break. Your body needs Vitamin D for other functions too. Your muscles need it to move, and your nerves need it to carry messages between your brain and your body. Your immune system needs Vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.

Sources of Vitamin D

Small amounts of the Vitamin D you need can be obtained through food (about 5 – 10 per cent).

  • Vitamin D is added to many breakfast cereals and to some brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and other food products.
  • Fatty fish (like trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best natural sources of Vitamin D.
  • Beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese have small amounts of Vitamin D.
  • Mushrooms provide a little Vitamin D.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun (90%). Your body makes Vitamin D when your bare skin is exposed to the sun. Most people get at least some Vitamin D this way. However, clouds, pollution, old age, and having dark-coloured skin reduce the amount of Vitamin D your skin makes. Also, your skin does not make Vitamin D from sunlight through a window.

What happens if I don’t have enough Vitamin D?

Factors such as lockdown, working from home, decrease in exercise and outdoor activities have may lead to Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency does not always have obvious symptoms but without treatment there can be significant health effects. These can include bone and muscle pain and softening of the bones – such as rickets (in children) and osteomalacia (in adults) which can make bones easy to fracture or break.

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Which adult groups are at high risk of Vitamin D deficiency? 

  • Older or disabled people in low-level and high-level residential care, particularly those who are housebound, hospitalised community-dwelling geriatric patients.
  • Dark-skinned people of either sex
  • People with a disability or chronic disease (eg: multiple sclerosis)
  • Fair-skinned people and those at risk of skin cancer and avoid sun exposure
  • People working in an enclosed environment, such as office workers, factory or warehouse workers or night-shift workers.

Do I need a Vitamin D Test?

Vitamin D deficiency is done through a simple blood test by measuring a form of Vitamin D in your blood named 25-hydroxynitamin D (25-OHD).

You may need a Vitamin D test if:

  • you are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency or
  • you have abnormal levels of calcium, phosphate or magnesium in your blood
  • you have bone problems
  • you have diseases that might result in, or be caused by, too much or too little Vitamin D
  • you have problems with your parathyroid gland

Please check with your doctor whether you need a Vitamin D test.

Source: National Institutes of Health
Source: Health Direct
Source: The Medical Journal of Australia

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Best wishes,

The Team from Carlingford Epping Surgery

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