In recent years, one supplement which has gained a vast amount of interest and research is Vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays a role in:
- Cell growth
- Skeletal structure & development
- The function of the immune system
- The proper absorption & utilisation of calcium
ARE WE GETTING ENOUGH VITAMIN D?
Vitamin D can be synthesised by the body on exposure to sunlight and is found in Fatty Fish, Fortified Foods, Beef Liver, Cheese, Egg Yolk and Mushrooms. It was previously thought that deficiency of vitamin D was unlikely, however research in recent years has shown this to be an incorrect assumption.
A study was carried out on Vitamin D status amongst adolescents in Europe by the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA) group. Fasting blood samples were obtained from 1006 adolescents aged 12-17 across 9 Countries: Italy, Greece, Austria, Spain, Sweden, Hungary, France, Crete, Germany. Vitamin D status was classified into 4 groups:
- Sufficiency / Optimal
- Severely Deficient
The results showed:
- 39% of the children had insufficient levels
- 27% were classed as deficient
- 15% were actually severely deficient
This proved that even in sunny climates children were at risk of health concerns due to Vitamin D deficiency. In the UK, there has been a 4-fold increase in admissions to hospital with Rickets in the last 15 years. Rickets is a condition that causes the bones to become soft and weak, leading to bone deformities. This has been linked to increased time spent indoors, increased use of sunscreens and therefore a decrease in the sun exposure required for vitamin D production.
Studies suggest that Vitamin D deficiency is likely to affect at least half the UK white population and up to 90% of the multi-ethnic population. Which is why NICE is recommending that Vitamin D supplements are used in Pregnancy, Breast feeding and in children aged 6 months – 4 years. The suggested dose is 400iu per day – all year round.