Vitamin D supplements: When you should stop taking ‘sunshine’ tablets
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Around 20 percent of adults and 16 percent of children in the UK have vitamin D deficiency and many others, although not deficient, don’t get quite enough of the sunshine vitamin. The main way to get vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight and it’s difficult to obtain through food; that’s why lots of Brits take vitamin D supplements. But it isn’t necessary to take the tablets all the time. Express.co.uk reveals when you should stop taking ‘sunshine’ tablets.
Vitamin D is essential for regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which helps to prevent bone deformities.
At some points of the year, Brits need to take vitamin D supplements to ensure they get enough vitamin D.
When your skin is exposed to the sun, it starts a chain of reactions that allow you to manufacture your own vitamin D.
However, during the winter months, your skin doesn’t receive enough sunlight to make adequate amounts of vitamin D.
Normally, you can get all the vitamins and minerals you need through a healthy, balanced diet.
However, sometimes you might need to take extra supplements if you have a particular condition or struggle to get enough of a specific vitamin.
Vitamin D is found in a small number of foods, including oily fish, red meat, egg yolks and fortified foods. But your best bet is to get out in the sunlight or take supplements.
According to the NHS, Brits should be taking vitamin D supplements during the winter.
When you should stop taking ‘sunshine’ tablets
From late March to the end of September, you don’t need to take vitamin D supplements.
When October hits, you’ll need to take a vitamin D supplement every single day until the end of March.
A 10μg pill a day should be enough for most people, but see your doctor to find out how much you specifically need.
Adults should never take more than 100μg of vitamin D a day, children between one and 10 should have more than 50μg, and babies under 12 months shouldn’t have more than 25μg a day.
Vitamin D is particularly important throughout the pandemic because vitamin D plays a role in the strength of your immune system.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that vitamin D affects a mechanism in the body’s immune system and the dendritic cells’ ability to activate T cells.
In healthy people, T cells play a crucial role in helping to fight infections.
Studies on mice and people showed that vitamin D causes dendritic cells to produce more CD31 on their surface, hindering the activation of T cells.
Essentially, vitamin D deficiency can make you more susceptible to autoimmune diseases.
In a statement issued in winter 2021, Public Health England (PHE) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advised that everyone should take a vitamin D supplement during the winter months.
PHE and NICE also emphasised that those with dark skin are more at risk, and recommended that those with African, African-Caribbean or South Asian backgrounds continue to take vitamin D supplements over spring and summer.
Porter goes on to list the external factors that can contribute to lower vitamin D levels. Anyone could be at risk if:
- They are housebound, spend little time outside or cover-up for cultural or religious reasons.
- They live in the north of the UK where sunlight is less strong.
- They spend very little time outside during the summer: the housebound, shop or office workers, night shift workers.
- They live somewhere where the air is quite polluted.
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