10 Oct 2019

The Importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” as our bodies make and store it when exposed to UV rays from sunshine. In Ireland, vitamin D deficiency can be common due to a lack of sunlight (especially from November to March) and the poor weather which keeps us indoors. Even when outdoors the direct winter sunshine is often not powerful enough for Vitamin D production.

Vitamin D is necessary for building and maintaining healthy bones. This vitamin is essential as it helps calcium and phosphorus be absorbed in the gut and used for our bone health. Vitamin D also acts as a hormone in the body and regulates more than 200 genes in our bodies. There is also increasing evidence to suggest that this essential vitamin contributes to cardiac and cognitive health, regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar levels and boosts our immune system. There are several scientific studies underway to investigate these links and others further.

Babies

A baby needs a good supply of vitamin D to help with the rapid bone growth after birth. Vitamin D will also ensure the bones are strong. Babies are not generally exposed to much sunshine, so a supplement is essential. In Ireland, it is recommended that newborn babies should be given a daily vitamin D supplement until at least 12 months of age. Although, we feel it is advisable to continue this daily vitamin D dosage until 4 years of age to ensure good bone health.

A deficiency of vitamin D leads to a condition called rickets where the bones are brittle and deformed. This condition was almost completely eradicated in recent times, but there has been a re-emergence of the condition in Ireland which tells us our children are simply not getting enough vitamin D.

We recommend BabyVitD3 drops as they are designed to give the recommended daily dosage for a baby in just two drops from the dropper. This will ensure your baby is getting the ideal amount of vitamin D. One pack of BabyVitD3 provides 6 months supply of vitamin D.

Adults

In adults low vitamin D levels can show in later life as osteoporosis where the bones become weaker due to mineral loss. This leads to bones that easily fracture and is often a cause of hospitalisation and disability in older people. The strength of the bone starts to decrease after the menopause which often occurs in the early to mid-forties.

It has been found that women often have lower vitamin D levels than men. This is also the case with older people who absorb less vitamin D from the sun’s rays and their diet. However, our geographical location in northern Europe means that all of us are probably low in vitamin D at certain times of the year. As we cannot manufacture it ourselves, a supplement is our best option.

We recommend Meda Vitamin D3 2000IU which is a daily dose that provides the optimum dose to maintain healthy levels in our body. We suggest you make it part of your daily routine and have it with your breakfast or lunch every day.

Diet

Vitamin D is also contained in several foods. The highest levels are found in oily fish such as salmon and tuna (some tinned tuna has negligible levels, so check the tin), which also have additional benefits for our heart and circulation, so we recommend two portions a week of oily fish for general health. We can also find vitamin D in eggs, milk and breakfast cereals. However, with our lack of sunlight in this country our diet will not provide enough to cover our needs.

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin and research is indicating it may have many more benefits than we first thought. However, we are certain that it strengthens bones from birth into old age. For strong, healthy bones take a vitamin D supplement this winter.

Talk to your local Hickey’s Pharmacist today about vitamin D. Find your nearest Hickey’s Pharmacy here.