How much time do you spend outdoors? Especially this winter was gloomy with a lot of rain. I don’t’ like it. But even though I spend a lot of time behind the desk I go for a walk pretty much every day! I love stretching my legs, seeing different scenery and breathing fresh air.
Now what the experts say?
People across the UK should increase their daily intake of vitamin D
because gloomy British winters do not provide enough sunshine to maintain healthy levels throughout the year, government health advisers have recommended.
People between 11 and 64 should ensure they reach 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day,
the SACN said. It was previously assumed that exposure to sunlight would enable most people to reach this target, but new scientific evidence shows “this is not the case”, it added.
Most people currently get less than 5 micrograms of vitamin D daily from their diets.
The SACN report said the new recommended intake should apply throughout the year “as a precautionary measure” to cover those who do not get much sun, such as those who are housebound or cover their skin for cultural or religious reasons. It would ensure that 97.5 per cent of the population reached healthy levels of vitamin D.
Dr Adrian Martineau, an expert on vitamin D’s effect on health at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, said that a daily intake of 10 micrograms would “significantly improve public health in the UK”. “Before this, the general assumption was that adults were able to make all the vitamin D they needed from sunshine, and didn’t need to have any dietary or supplementary intake,” he said.
If elderly people were to take more vitamin D, they would be likely to see improvements in muscle strength, which could lead to fewer fractures caused by falls, he added.
The average British diet is not conducive to a high intake of vitamin D,
which can be obtained from relatively few food sources including oily fish, red meat, certain mushrooms and, to a lesser extent, from eggs.
“Given current intake levels of vitamin D from foods, at less than 5 micrograms per day, the draft recommendation of 10 micrograms is unlikely to be achievable from these foods alone, particularly for groups where there is advice to limit oily fish consumption to two servings a week, such as girls and pregnant women,” said Helena Gibson-Moore, a scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation. “Taking some exercise in the sunshine, while avoiding sunburn, is sound advice for all.”
“There is clear evidence that low levels of vitamin D in the body increases the risk of rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults,” a spokesperson said.
A catalyst for stronger bones
We need vitamin D to help us to absorb calcium and phosphorus from our diet – two minerals which are essential for healthy bones. There is also evidence that vitamin D plays a role in the prevention of respiratory infections.
The Government already recommends supplements for all pregnant women, people over the age of 65, people who don’t get much sun, either because they are housebound, or because they usually wear clothes that cover most or all of their skin. Babies and children aged six months to five years are also recommended to take a daily supplement with a slightly lower dose.
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