Vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) is an essential fat-soluble vitamin produced by the body from exposure to sunlight. You can also get vitamin D from certain foods. Vitamin D is vital in your health, from supporting healthy bones and muscles to strengthening the immune system.
The body stores vitamin D in the liver, and it is the only vitamin that can be converted into a hormone. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D, getting a vitamin D test and opting for ways to increase your vitamin D levels is important.
Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption in the gut and helps maintain phosphate and calcium levels. These nutrients are essential for healthy bones, muscles and teeth. Vitamin D also supports your immune system by fighting off infection and may reduce inflammation.
Low vitamin D levels are also linked to conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, depression and cancer.
Some studies have established a link between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and muscle recovery. The studies found that higher vitamin D levels, especially before exercise, result in better recovery after exercise and less muscle fatigue.
About one in five people in the UK have low levels of vitamin D. Many people in the Northern hemisphere have low vitamin D levels. Since the sun is the main natural source of vitamin D, it may be difficult to get enough sunlight, especially in winter.
Deficiency in vitamin D can cause osteoporosis – fragile bones with a high chance of fractures or osteomalacia – softening of the bones, leading to fractures.
Your body can produce sufficient vitamin D if you get enough exposure to sunlight. However, in winter and autumn, when sunlight exposure is low, vitamin D levels tend to drop, increasing the risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Other factors, such as sunscreen and smog, can affect how much vitamin D your body will make.
In most cases, vitamin D deficiency shows no symptoms, but when symptoms occur, they are usually non-specific. These symptoms include:
Different factors can increase the risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. They include:
Extra sun exposure in summer and spring can help increase your vitamin D levels. Wear sun protection if you are outside for a long time to prevent skin cancer and sun damage. During winter and autumn, healthcare professionals advise taking a 10mcg (400IU) vitamin D supplement daily to prevent low vitamin D levels.
If you are at a high risk of vitamin D deficiency, taking vitamin D supplements all year round is advisable.
The recommended doses include:
If your vitamin D levels are already low, you can take up to 25mcg (1000IU) daily. Some medical conditions may require taking lower doses of vitamin D.
You can get vitamin D from food. Good dietary sources of vitamin D include:
Home vitamin blood tests are available to check your vitamin D level. The test measures 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and the reference ranges include:
Some inflammatory diseases can make it difficult to interpret vitamin D levels. They include:
You can get a more accurate vitamin D test at our Clinic. Call us on 02071830244 to book an appointment for your vitamin D levels test.