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PHILIPPA’S TOP TIPS Vitamin D Deficiency

Spot the symptoms, find out if you’re at risk and what you can do to help


◆ We get most of our nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the food we eat. However this is not the case for vitamin D, as although a small amount of vitamin D can be obtained through your diet, most is made via your skin when it is exposed to the sun.

◆ Add in the UK weather, and it is estimated that around 1 in 5 people living in the UK have low levels of Vitamin D.

◆ Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for the health of your musculoske­letal system.

◆ You may be deficient in vitamin D and not have any symptoms. Alternativ­ely symptoms can include feeling tired all the time as well as generalise­d aches and pains.

◆ If the deficiency becomes more severe there may be muscle weakness and pain, which can really impact on your ability to function, and even bone pain and fractures. In children, severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, in which the bones become soft and growth is affected.

◆ The NHS recommends that everyone over the age of 4 takes a supplement containing 10microgra­ms (or 400IU) vitamin D in the cooler months – from October to the beginning of April each year.

◆ However some people are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D and may be advised to use vitamin D supplement­s the whole year round.

◆ This can be for example if you are housebound, or live in a care home and so don’t get outside a lot, or if for cultural or religious reasons you cover up the majority of your skin when you are outside.

◆ Vitamin D deficiency is found on a blood test, which may be taken if for example you have symptoms such as fatigue – though remember, there are lots of causes for fatigue!

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