The main function of vitamin D is to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body which is important for the maintenance of our bone, muscle and teeth. By also being a vital hormone, vitamin D is associated with regulating our body’s immune system helping to prevent viral and bacterial infections whilst reducing our perception of pain. Some of the common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, general muscle pain and weakness, joint pain, restless sleep, poor concentration and headaches. Deficiency has also been inconclusively linked to numerous medical conditions such as prostate, breast, bowel and lung cancers, rheumatoid arthritis and dementia. Brittle bones and rickets in children have also been linked to deficiency of the vitamin.
One of the main sources of vitamin D is from natural sunlight (which we all know in the UK can be limited this time of year) so as the winter months draw in it is vital that we are getting enough of it from other sources. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are high in vitamin D along with red meats, cheese and egg yolks. New research from the Scientific Advisory Committee of Nutrition (SACN) recommends that everyone over the age of 1 should have an intake of 10 micrograms daily, and will benefit even more by having exposure to natural sunlight.
As most of us in the winter months are unlikely to get the sufficient daily intake of vitamin D through diet and sunlight alone, we should consider the use of supplements in order to get the recommended 10 micrograms.
Please discuss with your practitioner if you would like any more help or advice staying healthy this winter.
Adam Harrison – Sports Therapist