Summer is the time to top up on Vitamin D
Sun worshippers might be thinking about topping up the tan but there is one advantage of being out in the sun that everyone should try to benefit from.
Vitamin D is unique in that it is made by the body in response to sunlight. It is used by the kidneys to regulate the concentration of calcium and phosphate in the bloodstream, promoting the healthy growth of bone. Adequate vitamin D levels are needed to prevent rickets in children. Together with calcium, it also helps to protect older adults from osteoporosis (weakening of the bone which leads to breakage). In addition, vitamin D is also important for nerve & muscle function, inflammation, and affects genes that regulate the growth of cells.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has reported an increase in elderly patients admitted to hospital who have a vitamin D deficiency which could lead to longer recovery times from operations or from broken bones
GPs will prescribe vitamin D medication to help with a diagnosed deficiency but only as part of a short treatment course. The advice to maintain a suitable level of vitamin D is to get more sunshine or eating foods high in vitamin D such as oily fish.
In a joint statement, Dr Tony Naughton, clinical chief officer of NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Dr Amanda Doyle, chief clinical officer of NHS Blackpool CCG and Mark O’Donnell, medical director of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Vitamin D deficiency is a problem that causes extra, unnecessary pressure and complications for the NHS and the patient. It is easily avoidable. Just 30 minutes in the sun two or three times a week between April and September is enough to boost vitamin D levels enough to last throughout the year.
“Obviously the risks of sunburn should be taken in to account and sunscreen should be used but the benefits of just sitting outdoors for half an hour are worth the effort. We would particularly urge people with elderly relatives to ensure they are getting outside to enjoy the sun, especially if they are not able to go outside themselves and spend all their time indoors. Getting out for a short time will boost their mental wellbeing too.”