How vitamin D can help you
As the clocks go back it’s a good reminder that it’s time to get your vitamin D levels checked. Vitamin D is an important nutrient that plays a role in so many different systems of the body:
- Immune health – vitamin D helps to regulate the immune system. If you get a lot of colds and flu and then struggle to fight them off, it can be a sign that your immune system is struggling. In these cases vitamin D can support your immune system and make it less likely that you catch every bug going, so it’s really important to check that your vitamin D levels are optimal as we go into the winter cold and flu season. If your immune system is over-reactive and you have any type of auto-immune condition, vitamin D can help to regulate your immune system and make it less reactive.
- Bone health – vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium in the body, so is needed for bone health. This is important at all ages, but particularly as we approach menopause and we have less oestrogen around to protect our bones.
- Inflammation – vitamin D has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, so is important for any inflammatory health condition involving pain such as endometriosis. It is also useful for any type of musculo-skeletal pain.
- Fatigue – vitamin D is one of many nutrients that can have an impact on our energy levels, so getting your vitamin D levels right can help you feel less tired.
- Mood – we can all get a dip in mood as the dark nights approach, but vitamin D can also help reduce low mood too.
Why Vitamin D tests are needed
So you see why this really is an important vitamin to help us feel well, especially over the winter. We get most of our vitamin D through the direct exposure of sun on our skin – something we are short of at this time of year. You can get vitamin D from oily fish, eggs, mushrooms and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, but it’s hard to get enough Vitamin D from food alone in the winter if you live in the UK. That’s why it’s important to supplement your vitamin D levels from October to March. But you need to know how much vitamin D to take. Some people only need a low level maintenance dose that you would get in a multi-vitamin tablet, but if your vitamin D levels are already low in October, that won’t be enough to get you through the winter. As vitamin D levels are stored in the body, you also don’t want to take too high a level if you don’t need it as this can also cause health problems.
That’s why I recommend getting your vitamin D levels tested in October or November when your supplies should be at their highest after the summer sun. Then you can work out what level of supplement you need over the winter. Even if you’ve had your Vitamin D levels tested in the past, it’s worth getting them re-checked as things change. I’ve just had my test results back and mine are slightly below optimal even after the great summer we had.
How do I get a vitamin D test?
If you are having any routine blood tests done with your GP, then it’s worth asking if they can test your vitamin D levels too. If that’s not an option, then I recommend the Better You Vitamin D home test. This is a simple finger prick blood test that goes to an NHS lab for analysis. You’ll get sent your results along with an interpretation of your vitamin D level. If the level is below optimal, Better You will then contact you with a voucher for one of their vitamin D sprays, targeted to the level you need. So you even get part of the cost of the test back – who doesn’t love a bargain!
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Emma Belton Nutrition disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.