‘Oh, not for me, I don’t drink milk, and no bread ta, I’m on a clean living diet’ is one of the worst things that you can say. Why?
Not only because your insane dietary habits are literally impossible for the normal human to cater for. No. With a generation of sun-scared people avoiding the light like vampires in the making, and faddish diets sapping nutrients even further, it’s estimated half the UK’s population isn’t getting enough Vitamin D.
In fact, in the clinic I work, our GP suggests everyone should be on some kind of Vitamin D supplement – and should ask for a yearly check to see if your body’s stores are sufficient. Something I’d have no clue about if I wasn’t working with a doctor who specialises in seeing grumpy, tired, aching people.
There are a few types of people who need to be really careful.
Most natural sources of Vitamin D – a naturally produced hormone – are found in meats and dairy; fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, fortified milk, and beef liver. Pretty much impossible for anyone on a vegan diet. Even worse for milk-lovers in the UK, as our milk isn’t fortified with Vitamin D at all.
Those who are overweight may also have trouble with processing Vitamin D as it’s extracted from the blood by fat cells – something the body struggles to do in those who’ve piled on the pounds.
And as much as slapping on the sun block could save you from skin cancer and pigmentation, it also means for the few precious hours we get sunlight in the UK, it can’t actually produce any Vitamin D. At all. It’s blocked, from the sun.
Vitamin D deficiency can cause a condition called rickets in children, and bone issues in adults. It can contribute to low moods, depression and weight gain. It’s also been linked to dementia, prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction, and mental health issues.
So, after deciding I don’t eat nearly enough dairy as I should, and with a job which requires me to sit indoors, I’ve started taking a Vitamin D supplement while my GP runs through a blood test to check I’m getting as much as I need.
Be careful!Too much vitamin D can cause an abnormally high blood calcium level, which could result in nausea, constipation, confusion, abnormal heart rhythm, and even kidney stones. My dosage of 1000IU has been checked and approved by my GP. The NHS recommends 400IU per day to prevent deficiency, so please ensure you consult your medical practitioner beforehand.
The three methods I chose were tablets, an oil spray, and liquid nutrient.
The sunshine spray: NHP Vitamin D3 Spray
First up, I tried the spray. The bottle is small, and contains 400IU so I was happy to double up on the dose. The spray is oil-based, with olive oil and peppermint giving a really odd feeling. I wasn’t a fan, sadly, and so this is been sitting in my medicine cupboard.
However, it’s simple and portable, and you know that a spray is keeping you topped up, meaning it could easily stay in the office or a handbag so you don’t forget to take your RDA at the very least.
The chewable tablet: Quest Forte D 4000iu
As it says on the box, these tablets deliver a whopping 4,000iu of Vitamin D, four times what my GP had advised. After checking I wasn’t going overboard, he said it was fine to press ahead as this is the safe upper limit most nutritionists and doctors will allow – some say the body can tolerate 10,000IU – 40,000IU per day without toxic effects, but I’m not one to risk headaches and nausea in finding out. The tablet should be taken with or after a meal, and chewed for best absorption.
A lot more pleasant than the spray, I can’t help but feel this level of Vitamin D daily just isn’t necessary for me. I eat a varied diet – sure I have the odd daily treat here and there – and get as much sun as I can. For those in their thirties with healthy lifestyles, it would probably be a little too much.
Nature’s Plus Liquid Sunshine
With 5,000IU packed into each tablespoon of this deliciously sweet syrup, again, this isn’t something I’ll be taking every day. But honestly, I preferred it out of the three. Nature’s Plus are a well-known brand and specialist in vitamins and supplements so that’s a comfort to me – I’m very suspicious of supplements. Plus, it’s mouthwateringly delicious.
For someone who is deficient and needs to build up their reserves, the full daily dosage would be great. For me, I’m going to limit myself to 10,000IU per week to stay on the safe side until I know my results, so I’ve been taking this twice a week (so far).
Only time will tell if I’ve been deficient all these years. If I have, at least I’m on the right path to getting healthier, and if not, I’ll reduce my intake to one tablespoon a week to maintain my sunshine vitamin levels.
With around one in three people deficient, it’s worth being aware of what low levels will do to your body, mind and mood.