Vitamin D has received a great amount of attention with evidence establishing its role beyond bone health. For years, vitamin D has been traditionally recognised for regulating calcium and phosphate levels in the body and maintaining bone and dental health.
More recently, studies have shown vitamin D to reduce the risks of type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disease, heart disease, stroke and cancer. With that being said, new research revealed that people who do not get enough vitamin D are at increased risk of developing bladder cancer. Knowing such information about vitamin D is of the UK public interest, making people aware of its role in health outcomes and ways they can sustain good vitamin D levels throughout the year.
Our body creates vitamin D from the sun when we are outdoors. The beginning of April to the end of September in the UK is what I like to call the 'Vitamin D making season'. This is when there are sufficient ultraviolet B (UVB) rays in the sunlight to make good quantities of vitamin D. However, people with dark skin including those of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian origin, may not get enough vitamin D from the sun. They require longer exposure to the sun to make adequate amounts in the spring and summer time.
After the vitamin D making season - going into the winter times, the general UK population do not make as much vitamin D and most of us become at risk of having low vitamin D levels or vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is defined by the Department of Health as vitamin D levels below 25nmol/L. With Vitamin D deficiency being associated with medical conditions like cancer, a means to increase our Vitamin D levels is sought, especially during the winter season. In 2010, the Health Survey England (HSE) analysed vitamin D levels by region and season and indicated that during the winter months, 46% of people in Midlands and North, 38% in the South region - including London and 35% of people in the South - excluding London had vitamin D levels below 25nmol/L. Six years later, vitamin D deficiency in the UK is still an ongoing concern and a never-ending public health matter.
Vitamin D can be found in limited amount of foods like oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified fat spreads and fortified breakfast. Though, people in the UK should not rely on food alone to get their vitamin D as they will not get enough. Also, with people who are particular with their diet and may not eat such foods as listed - vitamin D supplementation is essential. Vitamin D supplements are generally available from supermarkets, pharmacies and health stores. Public Health England (PHE) advised that children over the age of one and adults should have 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily to prevent deficiency. Individuals in the UK should consider supplementation to raise their vitamin D levels, maintain their physical health and lower the risk of developing deficiency-related disorders.