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Omega 3 for autoimmune disease

The Benefits of Omega 3 and Vitamin D to Reduce Autoimmune Disease

The Benefits of Omega 3 and Vitamin D to Reduce Autoimmune Disease

Contrary to popular belief, most autoimmune conditions are a symptom of our Western lifestyle. As such, they can be treated or largely prevented with natural lifestyle changes.

The main problem with how we’ve been taught to live in the UK is that we consume a nutritionally sparse diet. Fast food, chips, crisps, sandwiches, snacks all “fill you up.” That’s a major issue; we’ve been taught to eat to fill ourselves up, when, in reality, to live a full and healthy life we should be focused on eating a nutritionally dense diet.

Other factors such as our sedentary lifestyles play a role in the development of autoimmune conditions. Most people in the West spend way too much time on a chair or sofa.

The thing is, it’s not our fault. We’ve been conditioned to sit down most of the time, plus nutrition has never been high up on the educational agenda. Not to mention, we party and celebrate with foods and beverages that are quite frankly toxic.

That being said, some people are genetically predisposed to developing an autoimmune disease. This commonly comes from the exact same issue but it’s handed down from generation to generation.

We need to learn to live in a more healthy way to live our best life. Thankfully, we have high-quality supplements at hand to get our system to begin to find balance and fight back against all of the damage.

In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids for warding off autoimmune conditions.

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The Health Benefits of Combining Vitamin D and Omega-3

The Health Benefits of Combining Vitamin D and Omega-3

The Health Benefits of Combining Vitamin D and Omega-3

Have you ever driven all the way home, deep in thought, then wondered how on earth you got home? Well, that was your subconscious mind, programmed to carry out the actions of driving through rigorous training and habit.

Why, then, don’t we treat other aspects of our lives in the same manner? For example, taking supplements or going for a run?

We’ve all done it. Started a new healthy routine, then fallen back into old habits. It’s easy to kick yourself for doing so. But the truth is, it’s not your fault!

The main reason that we default to previous habits is our subconscious mind. This part of our mind is functioning 95% of the time, and unlike the conscious mind, it functions without consent. Your subconscious mind is designed to conserve energy by making you carry out habits without any input.

What I’m suggesting is that you get into some daily habits or routines that include taking your supplements at certain times. Of course, you’d need to ensure that you took the right vitamins at the correct time. What is the right time to take your vitamins, I hear you ask...

Is it better to take vitamin D every day or once a week? Can I take all my vitamins at once? Is it good to take omega-3 every day? These are some of the questions I’ll be answering in this article. Firstly, let’s address a common and interesting question…

Does Omega-3 Contain Vitamin D?


Let’s first address what omega-3 and vitamin D are. Omega-3 is normally derived from fish oil. However, there are plant-based sources such as algae, nut, and seed oils.

But it’s important to note that algal omega 3 is the best source for vegetarians and vegans. The nut and seed oils don’t contain DHA, nor does the body convert the ALA to DHA.

Interestingly, algal oil can be used to extract vitamin D3, via algal fermentation. This process is fairly new to human food consumption, plus often manufacturers only refine the oil for omega-3s. 

Similarly, fish oil contains some vitamin D. For example, 100g of sardine oil contains 8.3 µg. Meaning you’d only get a fraction of your daily vitamin D dose by consuming a significant portion – 100g of fish oil.

I’m sure you don’t want to be sipping a sardine oil beverage to get your vitamin D! Am I right or right?

To get the right amount of both vitamin D and omega-3s, it’s a good idea to take a supplement of both. Unless you’re eating more than three portions of oily fish per week. 

Learn moreHow to Support the Body’s Immune Response with Omega-3

What Omega 3 and Vitamin D are Good For


Good question. Both omega-3 and vitamin D, when taken together, have heart-protective effects.

In a paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine scientists explored omega-3 and vitamin D supplementation and heart health. They recruited almost 26,000 people over the age of 50, with no history of heart disease. They were then divided into 4 groups; one was given 50 µg and 840 mg of Lovaza (an omega-3 rich drug) while Group 2 took vitamin D and a placebo; the third group took the omega-3s and a placebo, and the final group took two placebos. 

Five years later, researchers found that the participants who were given omega-3s were 28% less likely to suffer a heart attack compared with those given a placebo.

However, if the benefits from the omega-3 supplement only happened when the participants ate less fish eg. less than 1.5 servings of fish per week. The study concluded that combining omega 3 and vitamin D could reduce heart related conditions by 25%.

RelatedWhy You Should Combine Vitamin D with B12 and Magnesium

Best Time to Take Vitamins; Water Soluble vs Fat Soluble

Both vitamin D and omega-3 are fat-soluble, and best taken with a meal that contains healthy fats. Can you take omega-3 at night? Sure. But you must consume them with a meal, and it’s advisable to finish eating at 7 pm to allow your system to relax and absorb the nutrients.

Conversely, water-soluble vitamins are best taken on an empty stomach. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and all of your B vitamins

This takes me nicely onto my point at the beginning of this article…

To get the most out of supplements, and the bioavailability of the nutrients in food for that matter, it’s a good idea to create a schedule. To get into a habit of taking your supplements at a specific time each day. That might look like:

Vitamin D and omega-3 – taken at mealtime in the late afternoon.

Vitamin C, probiotics, and vitamin B – taken first thing in the morning

Possible Side Effects of Omega-3 and Vitamin D

It’s very unlikely that you’d experience side effects by taking a high-quality omega-3 and vitamin D supplement. Especially if you keep the supplement within the daily guidelines advised by the World Health Organisation or the NHS.

Very rarely people can experience a skin rash, burping, indigestion, or taste impairment. If you’re concerned about the health effects of supplements, for example how they might react with medication, and other aspects of your health then it’s a good idea to speak to a trusted healthcare professional. 

RelatedAre Vitamin D Supplement Side Effects Grossly Overstated?

Take-Home Message

Once you’ve decided the daily dose of vitamins that fits your current circumstances, make taking your supplements a habit.

Creating a ritual that you follow every day at set times is one of the key ways to form a new habit.

Some vitamins are best taken at specific times of the day, ie. water-soluble vitamins in the morning and fat-based supplements with a meal. Plus some supplements are best taken together for optimal effect.

Ensuring that you take the correct vitamins on a daily basis can form an essential part of a healthy lifestyle routine.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Why You Should Combine Vitamin D with B12 and Magnesium

Why You Should Combine Vitamin D with B12 and Magnesium

Why You Should Combine Vitamin D with B12 and Magnesium

In an ideal world, supplements would be superfluous. We would get all the nutrients we need from the food we eat day after day, our water would be completely free of contaminants, we would get the requisite amount of sleep every night and, when our bodies were well rested, we would shun a sedentary life in favour of the regular exercise our bodies intuitively crave.

What a world that would be, right?

The fact is, quality health supplements continue to have a place for many of us. A more pertinent question to ask would be, which health supplements fulfil a need, i.e. a cover natural shortfall in modern diets. Solid arguments can be made for half a dozen or so. But three nutrients are especially useful for several reasons, which we intend to outline in this article. Namely, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and magnesium. And getting enough of them, in combination, couldn’t be more timely.

Let’s look at why you should take Vitamin D, B12 and magnesium in tandem.

The Many Functions of Magnesium

Magnesium’s role in boosting Vitamin D is somewhat unheralded. Most people associate the mineral with other benefits. For example, did you know that calcium cannot be absorbed without sufficient magnesium?

Our muscles contain roughly 27% magnesium, and our bones 60%, with the mineral heavily involved in well over 300 biochemical reactions.

Magnesium helps to keep bones and teeth strong and plays a key role in maintaining healthy blood pressure.

Actually, a 2016 meta-analysis of 40 cohort studies totalling over a million participants showed that higher magnesium intake reduced the risk of heart failure by 22%, and the risk of stroke by 7%.

Magnesium is also intimately associated with energy production, electrolyte balance (read: hydration) and oxygen uptake, which is why it’s viewed as one of the best nutrients for athletic performance.

According to magnesium expert Dr. Carolyn Dean, as much as 70-80% of the world’s population may be deficient in magnesium. Sadly, the message about widespread magnesium deficiency has never truly translated into clinical application.

Symptoms of deficiency can include fatigue, mood swings, depression and insomnia.

Conclusion

As noted in a review published by The Royal Society in June, 2020, “Vitamin D diminishes the production of inflammatory cytokines, which appear to play a central part in the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19.”

Ask any nutritionally aware doctor (it’s a great shame that prefix needs to be used), naturopath or nutritionist which nutrients they consider most important and vitamin D, vitamin B12 and magnesium are likely to come up time and time again.

While it’s possible you get enough of the latter two (if you are a meat-eater, and follow a very nutritious diet), you’re unlikely to get vitamin D unless you supplement.

The study from Singapore certainly makes for interesting reading, and we will keep our eyes peeled for others which highlight the preventive measures we can all take as far as nutrition and lifestyle is concerned.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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woman staring into sunlight

How Vitamin D Cuts Flu Risk, Protects Lungs & Boosts Immunity

How Vitamin D Cuts Flu Risk, Protects Lungs & Boosts Immunity

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone which you naturally generate through sun exposure. So it’s a good idea to get out in the summer sunshine as much as you can, showing as much skin as possible (around 80%). If enough of you is exposed, you can produce between 10,000 to 25,000 IU from the time you bare your skin until just before it turns pink! Just make sure you do it without using sunscreen which inhibits the process.

There are two types of vitamin D – D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is found to be less effective at increasing vitamin D levels than D3. So D3 is the type to go for when it comes to optimising the vitamin D levels in your blood.

Why do I need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is essential for:

  • Improving immune function
  • Maintaining healthy teeth and bones
  • Supporting brain and nervous system health
  • Regulating insulin levels and preventing type 2 diabetes
  • Sustaining lung function and cardiovascular health
  • Influencing the expression of genes involved in cancer development 
  • Improving mental health and protecting against cognitive decline
  • Weight management

What are the causes of vitamin D inadequacy or deficiency?

1) Inadequate exposure to sunlight

Most of us don’t expose enough of our skin to sunlight often enough, or for long enough to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Even when it’s sunny, most of us will wear long sleeves when going out for a walk or run.

2) Your skin type may increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency

People with darker skin have a higher melanin content which slows vitamin D synthesis compared to light-skinned individuals. As absorbing and synthesising vitamin D from sun exposure is essential, the darker your skin, the longer you need to bare yourself to sunlight.

Research shows that people with a naturally darker skin tone need three to five times longer exposure to make the same amount of vitamin D as those with lighter skin.

3) Wearing sunscreen inhibits your absorption of vitamin D

As previously described, suncream inhibits your intake of vitamin D. Get as much of your body directly into the sun (minus suncream) for a few minutes until just before your skin goes pink. Then cover up or apply a natural, organic sunscreen that is free from chemicals, hormone disruptors and carcinogens.

Adults should try to get into the sun daily from late March through to the end of September, preferably between 11 a.m and 3 p.m. to encourage adequate vitamin D levels.

Cancer Research has some tips on how to protect yourself in the sun. Guidance for babies and children is provided on the NHS website.

4) Obesity and patients with fat malabsorption syndromes are less able to absorb vitamin D.

5) A wide variety of medications including anticonvulsants and medicine to treat AIDS and HIV increase the risk of deficiency.

6) Your kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form

Whether it’s due to ageing or you suffer from chronic kidney disease, impaired kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form, increasing the risk of deficiency.

7) Digestive issues, including Crohn’s and celiac disease, can affect your ability to absorb vitamin D from food or supplements.

8) Older adults are also at a higher risk of vitamin D inadequacy or deficiency as their skin can’t synthesise vitamin D as efficiently. They are also more likely to spend time indoors, and their dietary intake is most likely lacking.

9) Breastfed infants

Breast milk is naturally not high enough in vitamin D unless the mother is supplementing and has high levels which can be passed onto the baby.

UK guidelines recommend that breastfed babies from birth to one year of age should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D even if the mother is also taking a vitamin D supplement.

Related: How to Get Vitamin D Levels Up Fast

What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to reduced immunity and regular bouts of infection or illness. It can also cause tiredness and fatigue, impaired wound healing, muscle, bone and back pain, low mood and hair loss. 

Chronic deficiency can cause high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, skin problems, infections, neurological and cardiovascular conditions, pregnancy complications and an increased risk of cancer including those of the breast, prostate, and colon.

It’s hard to get enough vitamin D through foods alone, but some do contain small amounts. Mushrooms and most fortified foods contain vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 is found in salmon, sardines and other fish, cod liver oil, red meat, liver, full-fat butter and eggs.

Why, when & how should I take a vitamin D supplement?

For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, it can be hard to maintain adequate vitamin D levels through sun exposure. There are many other contributory factors too, like your skin tone, the time of day you go out, how much of your skin gets bared to the sun, and the time of year.

For this reason, it’s hard to determine precisely how much time someone should spend in the sun: it varies from person to person.

One way to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D is to take a daily supplement, particularly from the beginning of autumn right the way through to the spring. At this time of year, there is less sunshine, and the angles of the sun’s rays are steep, which blocks UVB rays. 

The NHS recommends that during the autumn and winter months, babies up to the age of one year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day (between 300 to 400 IU per day). Children from the age of one year and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day (400 IU per day).

This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women and people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the safe upper limit for daily vitamin D supplementation in adults is 4,000 IU. That said, some studies have found that daily doses of 10,000 IU are well tolerated in adults – this is also the No Observable Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) according to the Institute of Medicine.

Vitamin D toxicity can occur when extremely high doses are taken. But it’s best to err on the side of caution, and while an adult have no trouble handling 4,000 IU a day, taking a maintenance dose of 1,000 IU is a good start. 

If you’re worried your levels are low, it’s best to get them checked by your GP, or you can buy a testing kit. You can tailor your vitamin D intake from this point.

FYI – Without vitamins D3 and K2, calcium can’t do its job effectively. So, it’s best to take your vitamin D along with a vitamin K2 supplement as this helps to balance the calcium in your body, encouraging stronger bones.

Vitamin D aids calcium absorption, while vitamin K2 amalgamates the calcium into your bones.

3 reasons to take a regular dose of vitamin D

As mentioned above, vitamin D is essential for many reasons. But the following three reasons are very topical in light of the current climate and Covid-19.

1) Boosts immunity

Frequent infections and autoimmunity are associated with vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D modulates both your innate and adaptive immune responses and your immune cells have vitamin D receptors that synthesise and respond to vitamin D. It may contribute to healthy cell replication and can help to balance the inflammatory response (excessive and prolonged inflammation is often at the root of chronic diseases).

2) Helps protect against flu and respiratory infections

Some studies show that vitamin D supplementation can protect against acute colds and flu and other respiratory infections. The most substantial effects appear to be in those who have the lowest levels, and it is most effective when supplements are taken on a daily or weekly basis. It’s thought to work by boosting levels of antimicrobial peptides (natural antibiotic-like substances) in the lungs. And, of course, colds and flu are most prevalent during the winter months when our exposure to sunshine is less, and vitamin D levels are at their lowest.

3) Protects your lungs

As previously mentioned, vitamin D is thought to boost antimicrobial peptides in the lungs. Researchers have also linked vitamin D supplementation to a reduced risk of COPD flare-ups (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The most marked effects were observed in patients who had lower levels. It appears that vitamin D works by increasing protection against respiratory viruses as well as reducing excess inflammation. This may also help to explain vitamin D’s protective effect on asthma attacks.

Low vitamin D levels are linked to asthma attacks in children and adults. In a Cochrane review of seven studies involving 435 children, and two studies including 658 adults, researchers found that giving a vitamin D supplement (alongside asthma medication) reduced the risk of severe asthma attacks requiring hospital admission by half. Supplementation also reduced the rate of asthma attacks needing steroid medication.

Conclusion

Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels is essential for a well-functioning immune system, strong teeth and bones, heart and lung function, cognitive health, the nervous system, and cold and flu prevention during winter.

It is also needed to help protect against certain cancers, including colon, prostate and breast cancer, and can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes

It’s best to take a daily vitamin D3 supplement from the beginning of autumn through to the spring and get adequate exposure during the summer months.

To ensure healthy levels, you can take a daily supplement, continuing all year round if you are an older adult, tend to cover up or not go out in the sun, have darker skin and not enough sun exposure or are overweight. If you’re breastfeeding, your baby should be taking a supplement even if you are.

Also, if you have compromised kidney function or are taking regular medication, you may need to take daily vitamin D. Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

For healthy bones, it’s best to take vitamins D3 and K2 together.

Written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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yellow pills of fish oil on a bright background with a glass jar next to it.

Fish Oil Helps Your Heart: Details of the 2019 Harvard Study

Fish Oil Helps Your Heart: Details of the 2019 Havard Study

At Water for Health, we have long touted the merits of fish oil. Although frequently discredited by mainstream voices, the evidence indicating a therapeutic benefit of omega-3 supplements – and a significant one – is compelling and dates back decades.

We have written at length on omega-3, investigating its potential to alleviate childhood allergies, reduce autism and ADHD symptoms and improve behaviour and school performance in youngsters. However, it’s fair to say that fish oil pills continue to be synonymous with heart health.

In this article, we will take a closer look at a recent study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the public health graduate school of Harvard University. Hardly a fringe institution – which makes the study all the more interesting.

Fish Oil for the Heart: What the Study Says


The study in question was published on September 30, 2019, in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

A meta-analysis, it encompassed a population of over 120,000 adults in 13 randomised trials worldwide – making it one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind published to date.

What the Harvard researchers found was that people who took omega-3 fish oil supplements in the clinical studies had “lower risks of heart attack and other cardiovascular disease events compared with those who were given a placebo.”

That’s right, it wasn’t just outright heart attack risk which fish oil helped with: it was an assortment of cardiovascular outcomes including death from CVD, death from coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction.

What’s more, there was a correlation between higher doses of fish oil and risk reduction.

To be clear, this is not the first time that an association between omega-3 consumption and heart disease risk has been explored. Both observational and clinical studies have shown that fish oils can reduce triglycerides and blood pressure, block clot-forming platelet activation, protect those at risk of arrhythmia and improve general vascular function.

However, the size of the Harvard study blows the others out of the water. A meta-analysis of this magnitude is as close to a gold standard as you’re likely to get.

As far as numbers are concerned, the new findings showed that individuals who supplemented with omega-3 fish oil enjoyed an 8% reduced risk of heart attack and death from coronary heart disease.

As noted in the paper, “this finding may suggest that marine omega-3 supplementation dosage above the 840 mg/day used in most randomized clinical trials may provide greater reductions in CVD risk.”

Given the results of the study, the the American Heart Association is unlikely to alter its guidance to patients with prevalent coronary heart disease – namely, to supplement with marine omega?3 capsules on a daily basis.

That said, Federal regulations prevent dietary supplements from being prescribed by doctors as a treatment for a disease. In the UK, too, the process is very much geared towards the pharmaceutical industry.

So don’t expect the hatchet jobs that are periodically carried out on fish oil to end any time soon!

The Importance of a Therapeutic Dosage

What is clear from the paper, and from previous research, is that to obtain statistically significant benefits on certain heart outcomes, an effective dose is required. If 840mg is the typical dosage used in studies, you may require 1g, 2g or even 4g per day depending on the extent of your needs.

One of the most widely-quoted studies to date on this topic was REDUCE-IT, which used a high-dose, pure EPA fish oil named Vascepa. Incidentally, REDUCE-IT was incorporated in the Harvard meta-analysis – although results held true even when it was discounted.

What the REDUCE-IT trial showed was that pure EPA fish oil, when supplemented at 4g per day for five years, reduced coronary event risk by 25% among participants with elevated levels of triglycerides at the outset and either cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, plus at least one other cardiovascular risk factor.

What’s interesting is that Vascepa is actually classed as a pharmaceutical, not a dietary supplement. However, it is possible to obtain Vascepa’s “therapeutic” dosage by taking regular, off-the-shelf supplements.

Other Factors to Ponder When Choosing a Fish Oil


Of course, dosage is only one factor that should be considered. In truth, the same process must be followed when selecting any supplement.

When shopping for a protein powder, for instance, your primary consideration might be how much protein is supplied per serving. However, you’ll  also want to know how many calories; how many grams of carbohydrates; how much sugar; whether the protein is whey or plant-based; which amino acids are included, and so on.

Aside from providing an effective omega-3 dosage, you should ensure that the fish oil comes from sustainable sources and small-species fish (which absorb less toxins); you should also opt for a fish oil in the more bioavailable r-Triglyceride form, which is preferable to the commonly available (synthetic) ethyl ester form.

It should go without saying that the fish oil should also be made by a reputable manufacturer who follows sound manufacturing practices (GMPs) and has won approval from the IFOSP (International Fish Oil Standards Program) as well as other independent aggregators such as Labdoor.

Should You Combine Fish Oil and Vitamin D?

global overview of worldwide causes of death proves that cardiovascular disease remains the biggest killer, followed by cancer. These causes are way in front of the others: deaths from cardiovascular death are roughly double those from cancer, and deaths from cancer are more than double those from the third biggest killer: respiratory disease.

It may seem morbid to draw attention to these statistics, but what they expose is a grave public health crisis. The simple fact is that we are not looking after our hearts as we should, and we remain vulnerable to cancer in its many forms.

The evidence indicates that, where heart health is concerned, we should up our omega-3 intake. We should also strive to incorporate regular exercise into our routine, limit our consumption of trans fats, shun tobacco, manage stress levels and achieve a healthy weight.

It is also possible to manage cancer risk. According to Cancer Research UK, “our risk depends on a combination of our genes, our environment and things to do with our lifestyle, which we’re more able to control.”

Controllable factors listed by the charity include not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, eating a balanced diet, staying active, cutting back on alcohol and enjoying the sun safely. As such, they are broadly similar to the guidance for heart health.As far as cancer is concerned, there is some research to suggest that vitamin D supplements could offer a protective effect.

In one study of nearly 26,000 participants aged 50 and older, published in the New England Journal of Medicine at the turn of this year, those who took 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily had a 25% reduced risk of death from cancer during the five-year study period.

Moreover, a Japanese study from 2018 showed that overall cancer risk was 22% lower among people with the highest vitamin D levels, versus those with the lowest levels. People with the highest vitamin D levels were also 55% less likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer than those with the lowest.

And there’s another reason why you might want to take fish oil and vitamin D together: the latter is best absorbed when taken with a meal containing fats or oils.

Conclusion

It is encouraging to note that more people are taking an interest in what may be broadly termed preventive nutrition – the understanding that diet can significantly reduce the risk, and impact, of disease and disease-related complications.

Omega-3 fish oil continues to prove itself as one of the key nutrients for heart health, and when you consider its uses beyond improving cardiac health, it’s easy to view it as one of the indispensable elements of our diet.

If you wish to combine omega-3 and vitamin D, there is no better supplement than UnoCardio 1000 – ranked by Labdoor as the world’s best quality fish oil since 2015. WHC’s formula combines 1.2g of exceptionally pure omega-3 fish oil per serving, plus 1,000 IU of vitamin D, and each pack provides 60 servings.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Word Cloud on a white background - Vitamin D

Supplementing with Vitamin D Can Reduce Asthma Symptoms

Supplementing with Vitamin D Can Reduce Asthma Symptoms

According to a growing body of research, people with asthma may benefit from taking vitamin D.

Indeed, low or deficient levels could be to blame in the first place. Also, due to the vitamin’s anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin D can help calm inflamed asthmatic airways as well as reduce the risk of the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections which can lead to asthma exacerbations (a flare-up of asthma symptoms needing steroid medication).

Read on to find out how research supports the use of oral vitamin D supplementation for the reduction of asthma flare-ups and emergency hospital treatment.

Vitamin D for Asthma in Adults and Children


In 2016, a Cochrane meta-analysis evaluated the role of vitamin D in the reduction of asthma exacerbation and general asthma symptoms in both children and adults.

The review was a ‘high-quality grade’ assessment and involved seven trials with 435 children and two trials with 658 adults. The participants were from diverse countries, cultures and backgrounds, the majority of whom suffered from mild to moderate asthma. The studies ranged from four to 12 months, and the patients continued to take their asthma medication throughout.

The research showed that vitamin D supplementation reduced the rate of emergency hospital treatment by half and proved effective in significantly reducing the risk of asthma exacerbations.

This particular vein of research was conducted mainly on adults, so while more evidence is needed overall, more studies in particular that involve children are required.

However, according to the Vitamin D Council, one recent study published in 2017 by Alansari et al. found that high dose vitamin D supplementation reduced asthma exacerbations in children by an impressive 300%. However, this was only noted in the first three months of a 12-month trial.

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency


Low vitamin D levels are associated with living in Westernised countries and spending more time indoors

According to A. Litonjua, 2009, despite supplementing and living in sunny areas, low vitamin D status is a common issue in Western societies, due to shifting from outdoor activities to indoor ones.

The Vitamin D Council also links inner-city living (with increased exposure to air pollutants and decreased sun exposure), as well as people who are overweight and/or of African descent, with an increased risk of asthma. They also note that these factors are associated with lower vitamin D levels.

It is thought that low vitamin D status during pregnancy could also lead to childhood asthma. According to some research, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, and newborns living in Western societies and inner-city areas, are at increased risk of deficiency which can lead to asthma in offspring.

2009 study linked an increased vitamin D intake during pregnancy with a decreased risk of asthma in children.

2017 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology linked 4,400 IU of vitamin D3 per day during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy with increased immune function in newborns.

The researchers felt confident that this increased resistance to infection would encourage better respiratory health and decreased risk of asthma in these children.

What's the Ideal Vitamin D Dose?

The Vitamin D Council recommends that if you or your child have asthma, you should supplement with adequate amounts of vitamin D.

These doses need to be higher than 1,000 or ,2000 IU a day to create positive change and continued supplementation is encouraged to maintain high enough levels to avoid a relapse.

They also state that, overall, children respond more quickly than adults to supplementation (months for children as opposed to years for adults).

Opinions are mixed among researchers as to what the ideal dosage of vitamin D is for asthmatics, but the Vitamin D Council recommend taking doses as high as 10,000 to 15,000 IU per day for adults and 10,000 IU daily during pregnancy.

For children, they recommend 1,000 IU per day for every 25 lbs of body weight.

However, if you are concerned that you or your child have low vitamin D levels, it’s advisable to get them checked by your GP as soon as possible.

Conclusion

There does appear to be a link between vitamin D supplementation and a reduction of asthma exacerbations and subsequent hospital visits. It can also relieve general symptoms and help to prevent childhood asthma. However, not all research supports this and much more is needed.

Theories as to why include low vitamin D status as well as its anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic effects and the fact that vitamin D reduces the risk of upper respiratory tract infections, including the common cold which can aggravate asthma.

Supplementing in higher doses during pregnancy may help to reduce the risk of childhood asthma. If you are already asthmatic, higher doses of vitamin D are recommended to experience any benefits. Always check with your GP and get your levels tested before taking high doses.

Asthma aside, the general UK guidelines are to take a supplement during the winter months, and Public Health England recommends adults and children over the age of one take 10mcg of vitamin D daily.

We recommend Revitacell Vitamin D3 Drops, a liquid form of Vitamin D3 bound in natural organic oils for easy absorption into the body. 

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Vitamin D Spray, Pill, Sublingual or Gummies: How to Get the Best Daily Dose

Vitamin D Spray, Pill, Sublingual or Gummies: How to Get the Best Daily Dose

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for immune, bone and muscle health, but in recent years there has been confusion surrounding the optimal delivery method.

OK, perhaps that is not quite true: few would argue that there is a superior source of vitamin D than the sun.

In a perfect world, we would all enjoy the refulgent glow of sunlight on our skin each day. Of course, the sun provides nourishment that goes beyond topping up our vitamin D levels – but for the purpose of this article, we’ll focus exclusively on its vitamin D-stimulating ability.

The climate being what it is, Vitamin D supplementation is required for many of us to achieve healthy blood levels, and to enjoy the attendant benefits for immunity, energy, muscle strength and bone density.

Indeed, Public Health England recommends that adults and children aged one and over consider using a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D – especially during autumn and winter.

Those who are at an elevated risk of deficiency, meanwhile, such as people with dark skin and those who spend prolonged periods indoors (i.e. nightshift workers) are advised to supplement year round.

But which form of supplement is best? Are vitamin D sprays effective? And if so, is vitamin D spray better than pills or capsules?

Some people swear by vitamin D gummies or chewable tablets, while others contend that sublingual vitamin D dissolvable tablets are superior due to ease of absorption.

In this blog, we intend to summarise the key differences between various vitamin D supplements to help you make a better decision.

What are Vitamin D Tablets For?


Vitamin D tablets are by far the most popular type of vitamin D supplement on the market.

Tablets come in the form of vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) or vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

We have written an article outlining the key differences between the two (Vitamin D2 vs D3), but suffice to say D3 is the superior choice, proving to be twice as effective at raising the serum biological marker of vitamin D status as D2.

As is always the case with supplements, quality varies between manufacturers.

Your chief concerns when purchasing a vitamin D supplement should be twofold: purity and potency. 

While the PHE recommend using a supplement containing 10 mcg (or 400 i.u.), the Vitamin D Council suggest a much higher daily dose for healthy adults of 125 mcg (5,000 i.u.).

The daily recommended dose in Canada and the United States, incidentally, is 15 mcg (600 i.u.) – odd given that both countries enjoy greater periods of sunshine than the UK.

Potency, meanwhile, concerns the number of additional ingredients contained in the vitamin D tablet.

At a glance, these can include artificial colours, flavours, chemicals and fillers, not to mention sugar, hydrogenated oils and talc. 

Manufacturers add these extra ingredients to tablets to protect them from stomach acid, which can affect how much vitamin D will absorb into the blood and have a positive effect.

In other words, vitamin producers protect the vitamins in their tablets with coating and shellacs.

It is therefore worth scrutinising the product label to see exactly what you’re getting – and to decide how many additives you can live with.

Quality vitamin D tablets nonetheless prove effective at raising one’s vitamin D levels, providing the person is healthy. 

The main drawback is when the individual suffers from gastrointestinal issues which blunt the impact of vitamin D tablets, necessitating an alternative method.

How long do vitamin D tablets take to work? That depends very much on how deficient you are to start with.

Those who weigh more also tend to require higher amounts of vitamin D.

It’s a good idea to buy a vitamin D test kit to track your progress post-supplementation.

Meantime, take a look at our article How to Get Vitamin D Levels Up Fast!



Vitamin D Spray vs Pill: Is There a Winner?


Oral vitamin D sprays have become more popular in recent times. Unlike tablets, which of course go the way of food, vitamin D sprays are primarily absorbed via membranes in the oral cavity.

For the aforementioned group suffering from gut problems, vitamin D sprays offer a solution because the nutrient circumvents the gastrointestinal tract and makes its way directly to the blood.

Malabsorption problems are, well, not such a problem.

In a 2016 RCT which compared the effectiveness of the aforementioned two supplements, oral spray was shown to be just as useful as regular supplementation at increasing vitamin D concentrations among healthy adults.

‘Just as useful’ isn’t better, but it’s fair to say that some people prefer vitamin D spray to pills or tablets.

One reason might be the convenience, since some people have trouble swallowing pills or capsules. 

Another might be that some vitamin D sprays contains triglycerides, which may aid absorption. Some people just prefer the taste.

With all that said, vitamin D oral sprays tend to be on the expensive side. Some sprays may also contain artificial flavours to improve palatability, just like regular vitamin D tablets.

Sublingual Vitamin D: Pros and Cons

Sublingual vitamin D tablets are similar to regular vitamin D tablets, but with one key difference: they come without the artificial components. 

Actually there are two key differences, since sublingual tablets dissolve beneath the tongue, bypassing the digestive system much in the way of an oral spray.

Because they are without the additives and coatings of traditional vitamin D supplements, sublingual tablets are far smaller. 

Take Frunutta’s range, for example: the only surplus ingredients in these doctor-formulated vitamins are tiny amounts of lactose (to help the dissolving process) and acacia gum (to hold the pill together). Otherwise, you’re getting pure vitamin. 

That’s rarely the case for chewable vitamin D tablets and gummies, which often contain sugar – sometimes as the primary ingredient!

Due to their quick-dissolving capacity, sublingual vitamin D micro tablets are recommended to the same people who may gravitate towards oral sprays; namely, those suffering from malabsorption problems. 

They are also a good bet for anyone wishing to minimise their consumption of artificial ingredients or avoid intravenous vitamin D injections.

The Verdict

Clearly there are many ways to get more vitamin D into our system.

If heading off on a Caribbean cruise isn’t feasible, though, you can brighten your internal health whatever the weather by using a quality supplements, be they vitamin D sprays, capsules, sublinguals or gummies. 

Hopefully the aforementioned options help you make a more informed decision.

Incidentally, these are not the only vitamin D sources. It is also possible to up one’s intake from food sources, including fatty fish, egg yolks, beef liver and cheese. 

Truth be told, achieving healthy vitamin d levels from diet alone is well nigh impossible however. While some people with chronic vitamin D deficiency might consider intravenous vitamin D, such infusions can be costly.

Oh, and if you’re worried about taking too much vitamin D, don’t bethe overwhelming majority of supplements contain less than both the accepted ‘safe upper limit’ of 4,000 i.u. per day, and the No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) of 10,000 i.u.

Only when you start routinely taking over 10,000 i.u. per day, and for a prolonged period of months, are you tempting fate. 

In fact, in a recent study of 20,000 people, only one person had genuine vitamin D toxicity (364 ng/ml). And that person had been taking an astonishingly high dosage of 186,900 i.u. every single day for two months!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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How to Get Vitamin D Levels Up Fast: 5 Speedy Solutions

How to Get Vitamin D Levels Up Fast: 5 Speedy Solutions

As a supplier of dietary supplements including vitamin D, we are often asked by customers how best to quickly elevate blood vitamin D levels.

It is not such a strange question. After all, everyone should make a conscious effort to ensure an optimal intake of vitamin D, whether via sunshine, food, supplements or a combination of all three. And research suggests many of us fail to get enough.

The evidence for vitamin D is overwhelming: not only does the Sunshine vitamin aid immune health, bone and muscle function, teeth and cell integrity and wound healing, but it also appears to help protect against depression and cognitive decline.

Those who suspect they may be deficient – even seriously deficient – will naturally wonder how they can quickly increase their vitamin D levels. We intend to tell you how.

5 Ways to Quickly Increase Vitamin D Status

1. Get More Sun

Sounds simple, right? But getting more sun on your face requires conscious effort. In the UK, we don’t get a lot of sun during autumn and winter (and sometimes in spring and summer, for that matter) and when it does appear in the sky it can be rather weak, its heat blunted by the chill in the air.

Still, taking that brisk walk in the cold will ensure you at least get a little vitamin D, providing you walk in direct sunlight.

Of course, it’s a tricky one, because the temperature will likely mean your arms and legs are covered up. In other words, only your face and neck (or just your face if you’re wearing a scarf!) will be exposed to the sunlight, thus causing your skin to produce that much-needed cholecalciferol.

Taking a holiday in a warmer climate, even during summer, will ensure adequate vitamin D reserves in the body through much of autumn and winter – although a supplement may still be necessary to keep you in the healthy range.

Vacationing somewhere hot in October, November or December is a great idea. Just remember to heed Tip #2.

2. Don’t Overuse Sunblock

In the words of John Sottery, a leading sunscreen researcher, “sunscreen products acts like a very thin bulletproof vest, stopping the UV photons before they can reach the skin and inflict damage.”

However, gross fears about skin cancer have caused many of us to obsessively overuse and over-apply sunscreen when we’re in contact with the sun, negatively impacting our vitamin D production.

The human body evolved under sunlight, and it’s no accident that human skin manufactures great amounts of protective vitamin D when we expose ourselves to the light.

Don’t overthink your sunscreen use: apply when necessary, don’t let your skin burn or become damaged, but don’t hide from the sun or cover yourself up completely either. Sit in the open unprotected for 15-20 minutes, or 30 minutes if you have darker skin, and you’ll ensure favourable vitamin D production.

According to a 2017 study conducted by researchers at the Solar Radiation Group, part of the Polytechnic University of Valencia, humans can produce 1,000 IU of vitamin D in just 10 minutes during summer months, with only 25% of the body exposed. In autumn it takes 30 minutes and in winter, 130 minutes.

Bearing in mind, of course, that the test was conducted in Spain. Spanish autumns and winters are less harsh than Britain’s!

3. Eat Vitamin D-rich Foods

Food is a notoriously poor source of vitamin D. That being said, that are a few decent sources which will gradually help you up your intake. OK, you can’t get vitamin D levels up fast from food alone, it’s more of a gradual process, but it will contribute to the wider picture.

The richest dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon (also a great source of heart-protective omega-3s!), egg yolk from grass-raised chickens, fortified milk and cereal, mushrooms, organ meats like beef liver, and ghee.

To gain maximum benefit from your vitamin D, of course, it’s helpful to eat nutritional co-factors like magnesium and vitamin K. Incidentally, we’ve written a detailed blog about the relationship between magnesium and vitamin D that you might like to check out.

4. Consider Intravenous Vitamin D

Although it can be expensive, intravenous vitamin D therapy is very fast-acting and is a great way of quickly getting vitamin D levels up. It is probably a worthwhile option if you are seriously deficient, and indeed it is the method favoured by practitioners in emergency situations.

Vitamin D shots don’t appeal to everyone, and in truth the vast majority would be better served following another of these methods (or a combination of several). Shots are typically administered after a full review of your medical history and a comprehensive analysis of your vitamin D blood levels.

5. Use a Supplement

Vitamin D supplements are recommended for all Brits during autumn and winter. Depending on your climate, you may consider doing the same. According to a 2017 study by the Journal of the American Osteopathic Associationaround 1 billion individuals worldwide – nearly 15% of the planet’s population – are either vitamin D deficient or insufficient.

Oh, and don’t worry about vitamin D supplement side effects. As explained in our blog, they tend to be grossly overstated, and are associated with the kind of mega doses no oral supplement can provide.

As far as supplementation is concerned, we recommend Planet Source Vitamin D3 Drops - a liquid form of Vitamin D3 bound in natural organic oils for easy absorption into the body. We also stock Planet Source Vitamin D3+K2 Drops.

Conclusion

Boosting your intake of vitamin D is a great idea. Hypervitaminosis D – or vitamin D toxicity – is incredibly rare, and tends to occur only in those who obsessively use tanning beds and/or take gargantuan daily doses of vitamin D.

Some prescription drugs, including those made to treat high blood pressure, can also cause elevated vitamin D levels in the blood.

For most people, though, increasing vitamin D will bring serious benefits to your health – whether you know about them or not. The nutrient reinforces the immune system and helps you avoid symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, which range from depression, fatigue and weight gain to bone pain, flu and insomnia.

If you’re interested in learning more about vitamin D, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re always happy to discuss individual requirements and make recommendations.

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Are Vitamin D Supplement Side Effects Grossly Overstated?

Are Vitamin D Supplement Side Effects Grossly Overstated?

At Water for Health, we’re big advocates of vitamin D supplementation. We’re also the first to tell you that, if you get enough natural sunlight throughout the year, you probably don't need to bother with them.

One subject we haven’t focused on too much is the side effects of vitamin D supplements.

However, since there’s so much misinformation out there about the potential harms of taking a daily vitamin D tablet, it seems necessary to set the record straight.

If you’ve ever wondered whether your supplement is causing you harm, read on.

Are You Taking Too Much Vitamin D?


Many articles about vitamin D supplementation warn of the perils of taking too much, but the vast majority are wide of the mark when suggesting what amount constitutes “too much.”

This causes a feedback loop and miseducates the public on the potential dangers of supplements which are, in the vast majority of cases, extremely beneficial for our health.

We recently read an article which advised that if you were taking vitamin D, you were probably taking too much.

It was nice of the author to presuppose our collective daily dosage, but setting that aside for a moment, how accurate is this claim?

The overwhelming majority of vitamin D supplements contain less than both the accepted ‘safe upper limit’ and the No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL).

According to the Institute of Medicine, 4,000 IU is the safe upper level of daily vitamin D intake for adults, although the NOAEL is actually 10,000 IU. The Endocrine Society Practice Guidelines also state that up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily is “safe for most adults.”

These are, it should be said, daily dosages. Supplements offering 4,000 or 5,000 IU are routinely marketed as high-strength.

The Vitamin D Council, whose job it is to understand the properties and effects of vitamin D, and who have probably collated more data on the subject than any other body, recommend that patients exceed the upper limit but “not exceed the NOAEL unless they are under medical supervision.”

In other words, it is entirely safe to consume more than 4,000 IU per day but it is inadvisable to take more than 10,000 IU unless guided by a qualified practitioner.

Since it is false to suggest all, or even the majority, of people taking vitamin D supplements are consuming “high-strength” tablets, it is misleading to claim that we are collectively “taking too much.”

The fact is, too much for one person might be not enough for another – because people who are overweight require a higher dosage to achieve the same vitamin D status.

In a study of 3,882 participants, the Vitamin D Council showed that overweight participants required daily intakes of at least 7,000 IU to achieve a healthy status (above 40 ng/ml) while obese participants required 8,000 IU per day to achieve the same status.

What’s more, while we’re often warned that a side effect of vitamin D supplementation is abnormally high calcium levels, in this study average calcium levels did not differ from the beginning of the study to the end.

On the contrary, the incidence of hypercalciuria (elevated calcium levels in the urine) actually declined after supplementation.

We will detail the main vitamin D side effects in the next section, but it is clear from the available evidence that:

• Unless you are taking mega daily doses, you are not “taking too much”

• Most supplements contain less than the accepted safe upper limit

• There is much unwarranted hysteria about vitamin D overuse

Another misconception flying around about vitamin D is that, because rickets has been largely eradicated, vitamin D deficiency is no longer a problem we should worry about.

Firstly, rickets is still a problem. Research published in 2014 indicated that hospital admissions for rickets in the UK between 2007-2011 was actually the highest it had been in 50 years.

Secondly, rickets is the worst symptom of vitamin D deficiency; it is not the only one.

Often the claim is made that over-consuming vitamin D could be worse than being deficient. This is dangerous since – as we have demonstrated – the dosage deemed “too much” is a gross misrepresentation.

While the benefits of vitamin D supplementation are regularly underplayed or dismissed entirely.

In actual fact, Vitamin D supplements might be the safest prescriptions physicians have at their disposal.

Studies show that vitamin D can decrease diabetes risk, help with an overactive bladder, protect against colorectal cancer, lower death risk in heart failure patients and protect against severe asthma attacks.

The benefits of vitamin D for babies are also significant

Research published in the British Medical Journal even suggests vitamin D supplements could spare more than 3 million people from colds or flu in Britain each year.

But of course, some choose to focus on the risks – lethargy, vomiting, weight loss, nausea – of consuming too much vitamin D. This despite the fact that most people never come close to a daily dosage of 10,000 IU.

Amazingly, some articles claim that “unless you’re getting almost no vitamin D, you’re probably fine.” Not only is this stupendously ignorant, it’s also dangerous and denies people the health benefits they would enjoy if they used a supplement.

Vitamin D Supplement Side Effects

The side effects of vitamin D, such as they are, almost always transpire when one takes a colossal daily dose in supplemental form.

Toxicity occurs when your blood levels rise above 150 ng/ml (375 nmol/l). Remember, in the aforementioned Vitamin D Council study, overweight participants had to take 7,000 IU daily to even achieve a level above 40 ng/ml.

Thus, an overweight person would have to consume more than twice the NOAEL level of vitamin D every day to bring about symptoms of toxicity.

Cases of toxicity usually occur when people take high-dose supplements over a long period of time, and documented examples are very rare.

In fact, in a recent study of 20,000 people, only one person had genuine toxicity (364 ng/ml).

The person in question had been taking 186,900 IU of vitamin D3 every day for two months, and the side effects included fatigue, forgetfulness, nausea, vomiting and slurred speech.

When discussing the side effects of vitamin D supplements, we are really discussing the side effects of vitamin D intoxication. In addition to those listed above, these can include:

• High calcium levels

• Reduced appetite

• Weight loss

• Diarrhoea

• Stomach pains

• Reduced vitamin K2 activity

• Moderate-to-severe kidney problems

If you do not think the side effects of vitamin D deficiency are overstated, consider this: an 18-month-old baby was presented at hospital with symptoms including vomiting, abdominal pain and suppressed appetite after consuming 50,000 IU of vitamin D for three months.

The baby also exhibited hypercalcemia (elevated calcium in the blood). All signs of vitamin D intoxication, and no wonder – the child was given five times the NOAEL amount for an extended period of time!

Despite this recklessly dangerous dose, the symptoms resolved after the child stopped taking supplements.

If a baby can recover from taking 50,000 IU every day for three months, do you think you will be OK taking 4,000 or 5,000 IU per day? Of course you will.

One person who is disquieted by the backlash against vitamin D supplements is Vitamin D Council Executive Director John Cannell, M.D., who remarked, “If there are any studies showing 20,000 IU/day is unsafe, I would like to see them.”

Nonetheless, the organisation continues to recommend a daily dosage of 5,000 IU for most adults.

Bottom Line: Ignore the Hysteria

Providing you purchase your supplement from a reputable manufacturer, and keep doses sensible, there is really nothing to worry about.

Vitamin D scaremongering is puzzling, but rather than listen to it, you should have your levels checked using a reliable Vitamin D Test Kit.

Depending on the results, you might wish to use a daily supplement.

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Vitamin D for Babies and Children: Why It’s Essential

Vitamin D for Babies and Children: Why It’s Essential

Several recent news stories have put vitamin D in the spotlight, asking whether children and infants should receive supplements to assure a healthy intake.

While the adverse health outcomes of chronic deficiency are widely acknowledged, until recently many believed supplements were largely unnecessary for youngsters.

The prevailing belief was that breastmilk and vitamin D-fortified formula were sufficient for babies, and that the sun was a suitable source for kids.

This wisdom has been called into question, however, and in this blog we look at reasons why parents should consider giving their offspring supplements from an early age.

The benefits might just surprise you.

What is Vitamin D?


Vitamin D – known as the Sunshine Vitamin – is a nutrient which functions as a hormone within the body, helping us build strong bones and immunity.

That’s not all, though: vitamin D also promotes calcium absorption: when we don’t get enough vitamin D we can’t absorb the mineral, so we start to pull it out of our bones.

The Sunshine Vitamin strengthens teeth and muscles, and plays a role in the process of cell division.

In fact, higher vitamin D levels significantly correlate with a decreased risk of all-cause mortality.

Fat-soluble vitamin D is manufactured in the body when exposed to direct sunlight. In fact, sunlight is by far the best source: our bodies can generate 1,000 IU in just ten minutes during spring and summer.

That’s 250% the UK daily recommended amount of 400 IU – although many feel this is nowhere near ample. Indeed, the highly respected Vitamin D Council suggests most adults should aim for 5,000 IU each day, with overweight people requiring 7,000 IU.

In any case, food is a notoriously poor source of vitamin D, although you can get small amounts from fatty fish, egg yolks and fortified foods like certain dairy and cereal products.

Achieving the Vitamin D Council’s daily recommendation would be almost impossible from diet alone, however. And you might have to rely on just diet if it’s overcast.

Vitamin D Recommendations for Babies and Children


The UK Department of Health actually recommends that all children the between the age of 6 months and 5 years be given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day.

Breastfed infants should also be given a daily supplement from birth, irrespective of whether the mother is taking a vitamin D supplement herself.

What’s more, young children are advised to still take vitamin drops even if they spend time outdoors in the sunlight.

The current recommendations are as follows:

• Babies aged 0-1: a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 mcg (340-400 IU)

• Children aged 1-4: a daily supplement containing 10 mcg (400 IU)

• No supplements for babies consuming over 500ml of (fortified) infant formula per day

According to a recent report by the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), even breastfed infants in the 0-1 year bracket should receive a daily vitamin D supplement containing 340-400 IU.

The report was published after researchers learned that 6% of infants were at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

This is a rather groundbreaking recommendation, since it was previously assumed that maternal vitamin D intake would guarantee all the vitamin D the infant required.

If you are eligible for the government’s Healthy Start scheme, you could be entitled to free vitamin drops.

Why Do Youngsters Need Vitamin D?


Vitamin D is a highly important nutrient, irrespective of our age, but there is a special reason why developing youngsters need it.

For one, infants come into the world with low vitamin D stores; and particularly low stores if the mother’s intake is itself inadequate.

In fact, although breastfeeding is recommended by just about everyone due to the immunological benefits for the infant, those who are breastfed seem to be at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency due to the prevalence of deficiency among adults.

Despite a lack of randomised controlled trials on universal vitamin D supplementation, it is widely accepted that vitamin D reduces the risk of several infections and chronic diseases.

These include, but are not limited to, autoimmune disorders, type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, autism and some cancers.

Deficiency among children specifically is linked to instances of growth failure, skeletal softness, seizures and rickets – a bone disorder typified by bow legs and agonising muscle pain.

Many might assume that rickets has been confined to history, but in fact research published in 2014 showed that hospital admissions for rickets between 2007-2011 was the highest it had been in 50 years.

Admittedly there were only 3.16 cases per 100,000 children, but nonetheless it emphasises the very real dangers of infants and children succumbing to a severe vitamin D deficiency.

Those with dark skin are particularly at risk, as are kids who enjoy little access to the sun’s UV radiation – perhaps from being swaddled in warm clothing.

Tolerable Upper Intake of Vitamin D for Babies and Children

We discussed the recommendations above, but some might wonder about the no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) of vitamin D for children and infants.

The safe upper limit of vitamin D for infants up to 1 year of age is 1,000 units per day.

Children aged 1-10, meanwhile, can expect no ill effects from consuming 2,000 IU per day, while 4,000 IU is said to be the tolerable upper limit for peopled aged 10 and above.

With that said, daily doses up to 10,000 IU have not been shown to cause toxicity in healthy adults. That’s right: no published studies show any adverse effects of such an apparently high dosage in adults.

Vitamin D Council Executive Director John Cannell, M.D., has gone one step further, saying, “If there are any studies showing 20,000 IU/day is unsafe, I would like to see them.”

Vitamin D toxicity, to be sure, is very rare. It tends only to be observed in those who take mammoth doses of supplements.

And by mammoth doses, we’re talking about 40,000 IU. Every day. For months on end.

When considering the optimum vitamin D dosage for your child, you may very well wish to stick to the recommended government values. That is entirely reasonable.

The NOAEL level, however, shows that there is no risk associated with the higher dosages: namely 1,000 IU for infants and 2,000 IU for children aged 1-10.

Calls for a Change in Vitamin D Policy


In 2018 the story of six-month-old Noah Thahane, who died following complications of heart failure brought about by serious vitamin D deficiency, hit the headlines.

The baby’s death was deemed “entirely preventable” in a report printed in the journal BMC Pediatrics.

The report also called for mandatory monitoring of babies and pregnant mothers to assure adherence to a supplement protocol.

Noah Thahane was born in England to a South African-born mother, who now campaigns for greater vitamin D awareness.

Despite taking her son to the doctors numerous times due to his restless behaviour, Beverley Thahane says they repeatedly failed to diagnose severe nutritional rickets.

BME people are especially at risk of vitamin D deficiency because dark skin generates less of the nutrient than white skin.

And since BME communities are under-represented in surveys conducted to date, it is quite unclear what percentage of this population may be deficient.

In a follow-up review to the one mentioned above, Dr. Wolfgang Högler pointed out that “in contrast to their continental European counterparts, paediatric Accident and Emergency doctors in the UK frequently encounter dark-skinned infants with hypocalcaemic seizures, and rickets during winter and spring.”

Vitamin D is clearly hugely important for the development of babies and children, as well as for the health maintenance of older individuals.

There is good reason for the current recommendations, including the UK health policy which suggests we all supplement with vitamin D during autumn and winter months.

Vitamin D Works Best with Vitamin K

As noted by the Vitamin D Council, “research indicates that vitamin D and vitamin K work synergistically to optimise one’s health, especially concerning bone and heart health.

“Thus, it is important to take the proper steps to ensure that you are maintaining healthy levels of both vitamin K and vitamin D.”

Vitamin K activates MGP, a protein which helps move calcium where it needs to be – to bone – and away from where it shouldn’t be: arteries. Vitamin D toxicity, of course, results from excessively high calcium levels (hypercalcemia).

When it comes to supplements, then, you might consider employing both vitamin D and vitamin K. Our special children’s supplement QuattrO3 + PS, meanwhile, combines omega-3 fatty acids (which could protect against childhood allergies and autism) with 400 IU of vitamin D.

Conclusion

It is easy to test your child’s vitamin D levels by using a home test kit, and to boost their intake by using a high-quality supplement.

While 1,000 IU is higher than the daily recommended amount, it is equal to the “safe upper limit of vitamin D” for infants – and half as much as the safe upper limit for children aged 1-10.

What’s more, instead of sticking to a set intake for all youngsters, the Vitamin D Council advocates supplementing your child with 1,000 IU of vitamin D per 25 pounds of body weight. 

Remember, the heavier you are, the greater your requirement for vitamin D.

It is up to parents, as well as the wider medical framework, to ensure that youngsters achieve healthy vitamin D levelsDon’t wait.

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Low Vitamin D and Weight Gain: What’s the Link?

Low Vitamin D and Weight Gain: What’s the Link?

A great many factors influence body weight, most of them well known to us: but could a specific nutritional deficiency be hampering your efforts to stay in shape?

Vitamin D deficiency has an array of troubling symptoms, and according to a number of studies, we can add weight gain to the lengthy list.

So what’s the link here, and are there genuine grounds for adding vitamin D to your diet as a means of keeping the weight off? Read on to find out.

Vitamin D and Metabolism


Vitamin D is perhaps best known for its immune-enhancing properties, which is why we are often advised to consume supplements during winter.

Produced by the body when exposed to direct sunlight, vitamin D actually has a vast range of functions, helping us utilise and maintain healthy calcium levels, protecting our bones, teeth and muscles, and also helping with cell division.

While vitamin D is absolutely critical for calcium metabolism, its role in metabolism as a whole is not yet fully understood.

However, studies have frequently exposed a link between vitamin D deficiency and obesity. Whether low vitamin D is caused by a higher body mass index, or the other way around, is sadly still in the realm of speculation.

Certainly it is possible that, since many overweight individuals tend to cover up, they are laying the foundations for a deficiency. Sunlight is, after all, our best source of the nutrient.

In 2017, researchers in Valencia learned that during spring and summer months the body can manufacture 1,000 IU of vitamin D in just ten minutes. And that’s with 25% of the body exposed!

Another factor which must be considered is that larger people require a higher dosage of vitamin D to avoid deficiency.

Because it is a hormone rather than a regular vitamin, there is an interplay between vitamin D and other hormones/neurotransmitters within the body. Some people have theorised that the interaction of vitamin D and testosterone has an effect on body fat, since higher levels of vitamin D appear to correlate with increased levels of testosterone.

More testosterone, meanwhile, increases metabolic rate and prevents new fat cell creation.

And let’s not forget that fat cells themselves contain vitamin D receptors. Perhaps this is why higher levels of belly fat correlate with lower vitamin D levels among obese individuals.

Setting aside the fact that overweight people tend to have lower vitamin D levels, let’s look at the link between low vitamin D and weight gain.

Low Vitamin D and Weight Gain: Clinical Studies

Much of the attention paid to this topic stems from a 2012 study of 4,600 women aged 65 and over.

Published in the Journal of Women’s Health, researchers discovered that vitamin D-deficient females were more likely to gain weight than their non-deficient counterparts.

Although the study received plenty of press, it should be noted that the weight gain was minor. Like, really minor: specifically a two-pound weight gain over five years.

While it probably won’t compel you to add vitamin D to your diet, there must be some association here – particularly given the number of subjects in the trial.

Clearly many will be thinking that, if indeed low vitamin D and weight gain are linked, high vitamin D and weight loss must – in some way – also be linked. And there is some evidence to suggest just that.

In one study, obese college students were instructed to follow a calorie-restricted diet over 12 weeks, after which alterations in weight, visceral fat mass and visceral fat area were recorded. The caveat? Half of the students received daily calcium (600mg) and vitamin D3 (125 IU) supplements while half did not.

After three months, there was no difference in weight change between the two groups. Interestingly, however, those given supplements enjoyed “significantly greater decreases in visceral fat mass and fat area.”

It should be noted that 125 IU is a very low dosage. The highly respected Vitamin D Council believes most people need about 5,000 IU per day to achieve a healthy status.

Another randomised study conducted over 16 weeks found that the same calcium-and-vitamin-D protocol, albeit in higher doses (1050mg and 300 IU, respectively), correlated with a clear reduction in “visceral adiposity” compared with the placebo group.

The reason researchers included calcium was quite simple: just as low vitamin D intake appears to correlate with obesity/weight gain, so too does calcium.

To quote from a 2013 review which appeared in the journal Nutrients, “the overall impression is that vitamin D with or without calcium appears not to have a definite effect on weight, but may affect fat mass and distribution.”

High Vitamin D and Weight Gain


“Hold on… what?!”

Yes, there is some evidence to suggest that high-dose vitamin D supplements actually help with weight gain.

In a 2018 study led by the University of the Punjab and Queen Margaret University, mega-dose supplements helped malnourished children gain weight and develop language/motor skills.

The children received two doses of 200,000 IU – and the weight gain after 8 weeks was, on average, an extra 0.26 kg compared to the placebo control group.

In other words, you are unlikely to accidentally gain weight from vitamin D unless you are taking stupendous dosages.

Vitamin D Supplement Options

Vitamin D supplements come with many benefits, not least for our immune systems: indeed, a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2017 suggested supplements might spare three million Brits a year from cold and flu.

Our Vitamin D3 from Revitacell is an excellent choice for those looking to increase their intake.

Conclusion

Everyone should make an effort to maintain sufficient blood levels of vitamin D (and indeed an adequate of all major vitamins and minerals). Fat loss is just one potential benefit, but there are far more important reasons.

For example, did you know that higher circulating vitamin D concentrations are associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer?

Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels may also forestall the onset of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Because food sources of vitamin D are limited, the best way of increasing your intake is by exposing your skin to the sun. Since that’s not always possible throughout the year, and since it also entails the risk of sun damage if you stay out too long, using a dietary supplement is advised.

Covering your bases from a nutritional standpoint is a no-brainer. With vitamin D you’ll protect your bones, brain and immune system – and you just might keep those fatty deposits to a minimum!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Nutrition Cofactors: Vitamin D and Magnesium

Can You Take Vitamin D and Magnesium Together?

Can You Take Vitamin D and Magnesium Together?

In recent weeks, the interaction between vitamin D and magnesium has been highlighted, leading many to wonder whether they should take vitamin D and magnesium together.

At the risk of keeping you in suspense, the short answer is a resounding yes!

The Sunshine Vitamin is rarely out of the news, with studies coming to light all the time illuminating benefits for bone health, heart health, even cancer prevention. But what about the link between vitamin D and magnesium?

Read on to find out why you should always take these two nutrients together.

Vitamin D and Magnesium: What’s the Link?


It’s well known that certain nutrients (including vitamins and minerals) have cofactors which they rely upon for proper utilisation and absorption.

Take vitamin D and vitamin K as an example: they work together to ensure proper calcium regulation.

While vitamin D is responsible for enhancing the absorption of calcium from food, vitamin K controls where that calcium ends up: in bones and teeth rather than in soft tissues (blood vessels, kidneys).

Blood vessel calcification can lead to major health problems, which is why ensuring a healthy intake of vitamin K is important if you want to get the most out of your vitamin D.

Sodium and potassium are another dynamic duo, with potassium encouraging the kidneys to excrete sodium and thus promote healthy blood pressure. For this reason, our potassium-to-sodium ratio is considered a valid marker for cardiovascular health.

According to new research, there is a synergistic link between vitamin D and magnesium too. Specifically, those who fail to get enough magnesium may be unable to properly utilise vitamin D. In essence, magnesium deficiency causes vitamin D to be stored and inactive.

The review, which appeared in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, went further, pointing out that vitamin D supplements can increase a magnesium-deficient individual’s calcium and phosphate levels.

The Ideal Vitamin D Daily Dose


Maintaining healthy magnesium levels means you are likely to require less Vitamin D supplementation to attain sufficient levels. That said, arguments remain over what is ‘sufficient’: the UK Recommended Intake is a mere 400 i.u. while the Vitamin D Council recommend 5,000 i.u.

We err on the side of the Vitamin D Council, who have capably outlined their reasoning many times over the years. 400 i.u. per day does not bring us anywhere near the vitamin D levels of our ancestors, or of the hunter-gatherers still living traditional outdoor lifestyles in Africa. That is to say, a blood level of around 40-50 ng/ml.

Vitamin D and Magnesium: A Biological Feed-Forward Loop


The researchers involved in the recent study, from the University of Rwanda College of Medicine & Health Sciences and Harvard University, noted two ways in which intestinal absorption and metabolism of vitamin D was influenced by magnesium.

Firstly, they explained that the internal process which converts vitamin D into its biologically active form is magnesium-dependent. Secondly, magnesium acts as a cofactor for the vitamin D-binding protein.

And thirdly, all enzymes that metabolise vitamin D appear to require magnesium to facilitate enzymatic reactions in the liver and kidneys.

Perhaps the question shouldn’t be, can you take vitamin D and magnesium together; but should you? The answer – at least according to this new study – is yes.

Proper intake of magnesium will potentiate the effectiveness of vitamin D in your system, thereby helping preserve bones and muscles and fortify the immune system.

In turn, activated vitamin D increases your body’s ability to absorb magnesium, which is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions. Thus, a sort of biological feed-forward loop is in effect.

It’s worth noting that vitamin D and magnesium were included in our article 4 Essential Nutrients for Better Overall Health, even before their synergist relationship came to light.

With this in mind, let’s look at a few specific examples of how vitamin D and magnesium could help you regain or maintain good health.

Vitamin D and Magnesium for Depression


Vitamin D and magnesium are often recommended for depression, stemming from a number of studies released over the years. However, one would have to concede that the evidence is rather conflicting.

For example, while countless studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression, a causal relationship has not yet been established.

What we do know is that vitamin D has some effect, since several receptors in the brain are actually vitamin D receptors. The Vitamin D Council have written commandingly on this topic and recommend somewhere between 5,000 i.u. and 10,000 i.u. for depression.

As ever, it is advisable to have your vitamin D levels checked periodically.

What about magnesium for depression? A small human study by the University of Vermont did make headlines last year, finding that “over-the-counter magnesium supplements significantly improved depression in just two weeks”.

However, the study was not blind (i.e. people knew what they were taking) so a placebo effect can’t be ruled out.

Since magnesium plays a role in many of the biological processes involved in mood regulation, it is not inconceivable that a beneficial effect would stem from magnesium supplementation.

For their part, the researchers opined that “magnesium supplements may be a fast, safe and easily accessible alternative or adjunct to starting or increasing the dose of antidepressant medications.”

Certainly a protocol comprising vitamin D and magnesium would be preferable to pharmaceutical antidepressants for most people, particularly given the unwanted side effects of the latter.

If you are experiencing depressive symptoms, vitamin D and magnesium may be a case of trial and error – but one well worth investigating.

Vitamin D and Magnesium for Weight Loss

Can you use vitamin D and magnesium for weight loss? Again, there are studies which suggest that perhaps you can.

One 2013 trial published in the Journal of Nutrition found that a higher magnesium intake correlated with lower levels of fasting glucose and insulin, markers closely related to weight gain.

While there are other things to consider – eating a calorie-controlled diet being the obvious one – magnesium could be a useful adjunct.

As for vitamin D – chiefly responsible for maintaining strong bones and teeth as well as robust immune health – the evidence is compelling.

In one 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 218 overweight women were put on a calorie-controlled diet and exercise regimen, with half given a vitamin D supplement and the other half a placebo.

When the study concluded, women who had stuck assiduously to their vitamin D supplements lost an average of 7lbs more than their counterparts. The vitamin D group also enjoyed decreased weight circumference and body fat.

Work to establish how exactly vitamin D influences weight loss are ongoing, although it has been suggested that the vitamin reduces the formation of new fat cells and restricts their storage.

Regardless, it’s clear that maintaining adequate vitamin D status will only maximise your weight loss endeavours.

Vitamin D and Magnesium for Blood Pressure


We should all take care to maintain healthy blood pressure levels, and both vitamin D and magnesium can help in this regard.

As with so many health problems, high blood pressure has been associated with low vitamin D levels – though more work is needed to establish whether vitamin D is the cause or effect.

Certainly the study group in this case was large – 155,000 people from Europe and North America – so the link cannot be discounted. For every 10% increase in vitamin D concentrations, individuals enjoyed an 8.1% decrease in hypertension risk.

Meanwhile, a 2016 meta-analysis looking at 34 studies involving over 2,000 patients established that proper magnesium intake may keep blood pressure under control.

Taking 300mg of magnesium daily for one month resulted not only in higher levels of magnesium in the blood (as expected) but a reduction in blood pressure.

Among patients who took 368mg magnesium daily for two months, a reduction in systolic blood pressure of 2 mm Hg was experienced. Diastolic blood pressure also went down by an average of 1.8 mm Hg.

Again, there are many things you can do to look after your blood pressure without resorting to Vitamin D or magnesium. But do they help? Irrefutably.

Vitamin D and Magnesium for Migraines


At the risk of parroting the aforementioned, numerous studies show that those with chronic headaches are – what else? – vitamin D deficient.

Indeed, a Finnish study published last year showed that men with the lowest circulating levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to experience headaches at least once per week, compared to those with the highest levels. This aligns with the results of numerous other small-scale studies published over the years.

The same is true for magnesium, in that individuals with migraines often exhibit symptoms of magnesium deficiency. In one oft-cited study, participants who consumed magnesium supplements reduced the frequency of their migraine attacks by 41.6%, compared to just 15.8% in the placebo group. Similar results have been recorded in other double-blind trials.

The take-home? Both vitamin D and magnesium offer hope for migraine sufferers. Yet another reason to avoid deficiency.

How to Increase Vitamin D and Magnesium Levels


There are many benefits to taking vitamin D and magnesium which are not covered in this article. They include for joint pain, sleep, diabetes, even fibromyalgia.

The web is a virtual treasure trove of information on these topics, with many articles written by medical doctors and dieticians, so it pays to do your research and make an informed decision.

Given that deficiencies of both vitamin D and magnesium are alarmingly common, it will take a sustained effort for the populace to meet their daily requirements.

While magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods including leafy green vegetables, nuts, fish, meat and brown rice, vitamin D is harder to come by.

This is why, in the UK, we are advised to use a supplement throughout autumn and winter.

In spring and summer, we may get what we need from the sun but even that depends on a host of factors: exactly how much sun you get, your body weight (the heavier you are, the more vitamin D you need), whether you cover up, your skin colour etc.

As mentioned earlier, the UK Recommended Intake for vitamin D is just 400 i.u. However, in many of the studies quoted in this article a higher ‘therapeutic’ dosage was used.

Based on present research, consuming anywhere between 1,000 i.u. and 5,000 i.u. is recommended for most people.

The tolerable upper limit advised by the Food and Nutrition Board is 4,000 i.u. per day, though the same board set the No Observed Adverse Effects Level (NOAEL) at 10,000 i.u. per day.

The Endocrine Society Practice Guidelines agree that up to 10,000 i.u. per day is “safe for most adults.”

How Much Magnesium Per Day?


The UK recommended daily intake for magnesium is 300mg for men (19-64 years) and 270mg for women (19-64). However it is higher in the US, where the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies set the figure.

There, males aged 14 and over are advised to strive for 410-420mg, while females should aim for anywhere between 310 and 360mg.

According to an in-depth report published in 2003, “400 mg/day supplemental magnesium would not be expected to result in any significant adverse effects.”

This takes into account even those who eat a magnesium-rich diet, since adverse effects are not associated with magnesium ingested from food.

Indeed, the ‘estimated maximum intake’ in this report amounted to 1,400 mg per day.

Vitamin D and Magnesium Supplements

So what are the options? Firstly, if you want to avoid vitamin D deficiency, a supplement is almost definitely required unless you live in a warm climate and get plenty of sun on your face throughout the year.

As discussed earlier, vitamin K is an important cofactor of vitamin D. As such, it is wise to supplement with both if you do not consume enough dietary vitamin K.

Food sources of vitamin K include leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and fermented dairy. Incidentally, vitamin K deficiency might be just as harmful as vitamin D deficiency.

Is a magnesium supplement essential? It shouldn’t be, in an ideal world. However, the fact that magnesium deficiency is prevalent in our society indicates that most simply do not eat enough.

Furthermore, older adults, people will type 2 diabetes and gastrointestinal diseases, and those with an alcohol dependence have a higher need for magnesium. Elevated stress is another factor which increases one’s magnesium needs.

What About Magnesium from Food?

Although food should always constitute the vast majority of our nutrients, soil depletion due to intensive modern agricultural practice has reduced the magnesium content of crops, meaning less dietary magnesium is available to us than before.

This has led Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD – author of The Magnesium Miracle – to claim that “to get enough magnesium today, you need to take supplements.”

One magnesium supplement we would recommend is Magnesium Citrate. Magnesium Citrate is a combination of magnesium and citric acid which is readily absorbed into the blood stream and body tissues. These capsules of magnesium citrate are produced in the UK and contain no magnesium stearate or unnecessary fillers.

In conclusion, vitamin D and magnesium can – and should – be taken together. Ensuring a suitable daily intake of both key nutrients is key to achieving higher levels of wellbeing, and there are specific conditions for which supplemental intake is particularly recommended.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Word Cloud on a white background - Vitamin D

Vitamin D Deficiency: Fatigue, Flu and Other Symptoms

Winter is a good time to talk about vitamin D. In fact, it’s been precisely one year since we wrote a blog saying as much.

At no other time are blocked noses, hacking coughs, sneezing fits and sore throats quite so ubiquitous.

You may wonder how vitamin D ties into this roll call of seasonal symptoms, and if so, it’ll probably shock you to learn that vitamin D deficiency is at the very root of them.

The Importance of Vitamin D


In a year in which the British Medical Journal argued food should be fortified with the vitamin to spare three million from the cold and flu each year, it seems appropriate to look at the main symptoms of deficiency – and what topping up your levels could mean for your overall health.

Let’s get to it.

What Does Vitamin D Do?


A cursory glance at the EU Register on Nutrition & Health Claims indicates just how biologically favourable vitamin D is. Below is a list of claims approved by Commission Regulation:

• Vitamin D contributes to normal blood calcium levels; the maintenance of normal bones; the maintenance of normal teeth; the maintenance of normal muscle function; the normal function of the immune system; the normal absorption/utilisation of calcium and phosphorus

• Vitamin D has a role in the process of cell division

• Vitamin D (and calcium) help to reduce the loss of bone mineral in post-menopausal women.

• Vitamin D helps to reduce the risk of falling associated with postural instability and muscle weakness.

Evidently this is one vitamin you should not forego – particularly if you don’t get enough natural sunlight for the body to manufacture the requisite amounts.

It’s for this reason that we included Vitamin D in our recent blog, ‘4 Essential Nutrients for Better Overall Heath‘.

And it’s not just those in the natural health arena who rave about Vitamin D. Figures show that in Northern Ireland prescriptions for the Sunshine Vitamin have more than doubled in the last decade.

Public health advice recommends that all of us should take a Vitamin D supplement in autumn and winter.

And in addition to the aforementioned benefits, studies show Vit D can protect against severe asthma attacks, help to heal burns, reduce inflammation, improve cardiac function and assist in the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis.

Amid all that good press, it seems inconceivable that so many people would remain deficient. And yet it’s true: most of don’t get all the vitamin D we need, leaving immune systems compromised, blood calcium levels insufficient and inflammation unchecked.

The Vitamin D Council has gone so far as to claim we are experiencing a ‘vitamin D deficiency pandemic.’

Vitamin D Deficiency: Fatigue Isn’t the Only Symptom

There are a great many symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency, although not everyone connects the dots and realises they are deficient.

Ensuring an adequate intake means that, should you experience any of the symptoms given below, you can rule out lack of Vitamin D as the cause.

1. Fatigue

It’s not the only symptom, but it’s certainly one of the most prevalent. Low blood levels (anything less than 20 ng/ml is deemed deficient) can cause skeletal muscle fatigue and myopathy, as noted in a number of clinical trials.

Low Vitamin D levels have been linked with fatigue among cancer patients in particular, with normalisation shown to significantly lessen the severity of symptoms.

Since fatigue can affect pretty much every facet of life, it pays to boost your Vitamin D levels. If lethargy remains an issue, make an appointment with your GP or naturopathic doctor to identify the underlying cause.

2. Colds/flu

Contracting the cold or flu can be a sure sign your Vitamin D levels are too low. This at least partly explains why more people get the cold during winter than summer, since there’s enough sunlight midway through the year for our bodies to manufacture the vitamin.

If you want to fortify your immune system to avoid that nasty cold spreading like wildfire through the office, make sure to supplement. After all, no-one likes to be off work in December, beached on the couch watching Christmas films… do they?

3. Low Mood

Vitamin D has more than once been linked to depression, particularly in elder individuals.

This makes sense, since serotonin – the mood-stabilising brain hormone – increases when exposed to bright light and plummets when sun exposure is limited.

What’s more, Vitamin D receptors have been located on a handful of cells in regions of the brain linked with depression.

The Vitamin D Council have written a fairly exhaustive article reviewing the scientific literature on this topic.

In our view, it’s worth reaching for a Vitamin D supplement before an antidepressant.

4. Bone Pain

Never experienced bone pain? Count yourself lucky: it can be absolutely excruciating.

According to one controlled study, those with inadequate serum Vitamin D are almost twice as likely to suffer from such pain in the joints, ribs or legs.

Remember, without the Sunshine Vitamin our bodies are unable to efficiently absorb calcium, perhaps the most important nutrient for bone mineral status.

It’s not just bone pain, either; bone softening, which can in many cases lead to fractures, is a byproduct of severe deficiency.

5. Poor Sleep

A lesser-known symptom of Vitamin D deficiency is disrupted sleep – and not just insomnia but sleep apnea, intermittent awakenings and sudden jerking body movements.

While it’s true that there hasn’t been enough investigations into sleep and Vit D (the evidence is mainly observational), there’s enough data to suggest Vit D ahead of, say, sleeping pills when it comes to improving shuteye.

Particularly after an American study from earlier this year showed that supplements “improve sleep quality, reduce sleep latency, increase sleep duration and improve subjective sleep quality” in 20-50-year-olds with a sleep disorder.

Setting aside the symptomology for a second, there is evidence that Vitamin D has many benefits beyond those mentioned here.

Dr. Verner Wheelock penned an interesting article only last year, looking at the associations of Vitamin D with conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and type-2 diabetes, and we ourselves have explored the link between low vitamin D and weight gain.

These associations certainly warrant further investigation.

Addressing Vitamin D Deficiency is Easy

There is some dispute about the ‘ideal’ daily Vitamin D dose. Public Health England recommends a mere 400 i.u., although the non-profit Vitamin D Council, a collective of health professionals and researchers, advise 5,000.

The VDC say this amount is required to obtain a serum level of 40 ng/ml for an average adult. The Endocrine Society, meanwhile, states that up to 10,000 i.u. daily is safe for most adults. It’s little wonder the public are confused.

It should be noted that Vitamin D toxicity is extremely uncommon. The fact that the body can make around 1,000 i.u. in just ten minutes of sunlight probably illustrates this better than anything.

Toxicity can, however, occur if you take tens of thousands of Vitamin D on a daily basis for several months, leading to high levels of calcium in the blood.

Should you wish to address symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency – fatigue, low mood, bone pain, dizziness and others – the best way is to take a daily supplement.

Providing you get out in the sun during spring and summer, this might only be necessary for six months of the year.

Assessing your Vitamin D levels with an at-home testing kit is an excellent way of knowing for sure.

Conclusion

To quickly boost your vitamin D levels, try our Planet Source Vitamin D3 Drops, or Planet Source Vitamin D3 + K2 Drops. Both contain Vitamin D3 5000iu and are bound in natural oils for easy absorption into the body. The oils are organic olive oil, organic MCT oil and organic chia seed oil.

Whatever supplement you choose, ensuring a healthy intake of vitamin D is absolutely vital if you wish to maintain high levels of wellbeing and year-round immunity.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Vitamin D2 vs D3: Which is Superior?

Vitamin D2 vs D3: Which One’s Superior?

Vitamin D2 vs D3: Which One’s Superior?

While there are dissenting voices on most topics in the field of natural health, you will struggle to find anyone who does not recommend maintaining high levels of vitamin D.

This can be achieved through diet, time spent outdoors in the sun, the use of supplements or a combination of all three.

Vitamin D exists in two forms: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. In this blog, we aim to outline the key differences between the two.

The Many Benefits of Vitamin D


Vitamin D is essential for several functions of the human body, particularly relating to bone health and immune performance.

In addition, it contributes to the absorption and utilisation of both calcium and phosphorus, healthy blood calcium levels, the maintenance of normal muscle function and teeth, and the vital process of cell division.

It’s as simple as this: everybody needs vitamin D. Which is where the Vitamin D2 vs D3 debate really heats up.

Sources of Vitamin D2


Vitamin D2 is produced by plants exposed to UV light.

Also known as ergocalciferol, it is added to foods such as dairy-free milks (almond, soy, coconut) to bolster their nutritional profile.

Bread is also regularly fortified with vitamin D2, while mushrooms are a natural source.

Vitamin D3: It Comes From the Sun

Vitamin D3 is the most biologically available form, produced when our skin is exposed to sunlight. In the reactive process which takes place, cholesterol is converted into vitamin D3, meaning – in theory – we need do no more than spend some time outdoors to get all we need.

A recent study by the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) estimated the length of time required to generate 1,000 i.u. of vitamin D from the sun without risking sunburn.

Researchers learned that during spring and summer months an individual can make 1,000 i.u. in just 10 minutes. In winter, the length of time was 130 minutes for the same amount of vitamin D, while in fall 30 minutes was adequate.

Bearing in mind the study assessed respondents in Spain, which benefits from a far warmer climate than we do in Britain.

Moreover, each person’s ability to make vitamin D differs depending on skin type, sun exposure and age. Nonetheless, the study shows how easy it is to get vitamin D the natural way – providing weather conditions are adequate.

To put that number into context, 1,000 i.u. is 2.5 times times the UK recommended daily value. 400 i.u., or 10 micrograms, is said to be the amount needed to protect bone and muscle health.

With that being said, many global bodies believe the figure should be far higher. The Vitamin D Council, for instance, advise people to get 5,000 i.u. of vitamin D per day, while the Endocrine Society recommend 2,000 i.u.

Vitamin D2 vs D3 Has a Clear Winner

A recent study by the University of Surrey showed that vitamin D3 is twice as effective at raising the serum biological marker of vitamin D status than D2.

According to senior researcher Susan Lanham-New, PhD, “the discovery will revolutionise how the health and retail sector views vitamin D… and help people make a more informed choice about what they can eat or drink to raise their levels.”

It is not the only trial which illustrates vitamin D3’s superiority. Of particular note was the 2014 review of over 50 studies showing that D3 offered a substantial decrease in overall mortality, while D2 did not.

Another study from 2010 concluded that “D3 should be the preferred treatment option when correcting vitamin D deficiency,” citing its greater potency and lower cost.

Plainly, vitamin D3 is the type which provides the most benefits for the human body. Because very few foods (fatty fish, egg yolks) naturally contain vitamin D in either form, supplements are the best way forward.

Indeed, Public Health England suggest all Brits should consider taking a daily supplement during autumn and winter (October-March). In supplement form, D3 is derived from animal products – usually sheep’s wool – while D2 is derived from plant sources.

Conclusion


If you can rely on the sun to get all the vitamin D you need, great! If not, you’re well advised to top up your levels with a high-quality supplement. And as this article illustrates, there’s only one form you should consider – and it’s not D2.

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sunscreen on skin with heart shape

Sunscreen of 15 SPF or More Reduces Vitamin D Production by 99%

If you lather on the sunscreen every time the sun touches your skin, you could be putting yourself at risk of vitamin D deficiency, according to a recent study. Vitamin D is required for many vital functions in the body, and deficiencies have been linked to fatigue, autoimmunity, rickets, osteoporosis, even weight gain.

While health experts recommend the use of sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, there are benefits to allowing your skin unprotected time in the sun. Here’s how much sunlight you should be getting to avoid a vitamin D deficiency.

Sunscreen and Vitamin D Deficiency

New research finds that applying a sunscreen of 15 SPF or higher, stops vitamin D production by 99%. According to researcher Kim Pfotenhauer, “People are spending less time outside and, when they do go out, they’re typically wearing sunscreen, which essentially nullifies the body’s ability to produce vitamin D.”

She went on to say, “While we want people to protect themselves against skin cancer, there are healthy, moderate levels of unprotected sun exposure that can be very helpful in boosting vitamin D.”

The study found that maintaining healthy vitamin D levels is as easy as spending five to ten minutes in the midday sun without sunscreen twice per week. Pfotenhauer said, “You don’t need to go sunbathing at the beach to get the benefits. A simple walk with arms and legs exposed is enough for most people.” Vitamin D deficiency is also a concern in the winter and autumn months when most people spend their time indoors. For that reason, many people use light lamps or choose to supplement.

Why You Need Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a vitamin (technically a hormone) that is required for many critical functions. It has multiple scientifically-proven benefits, including improving bone health, reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease, increasing both upper and lower body strength, and preventing premature death, to name a few.

Most studies showed that supplementing with vitamin D showed the greatest results. One study even showed that taking a vitamin D supplement reduces the risk of bone fractures by up to 33 percent. Vitamin D also reduces the risk of osteoporosis because it aids in the absorption of calcium, which is needed to maintain strong bones.

Supplementing with vitamin D may be beneficial for people with type one and type two diabetes as it has been shown to stabilise blood sugar levels. Another study found that infants who were given a vitamin D supplement were 88 percent less like to develop type 1 diabetes than those given no supplements.

One of the most oft-cited benefits of vitamin D is for cardiovascular health. According to a 2008 study, men with vitamin D levels less than 15 ng/m were twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack. Other proven benefits of vitamin D supplementation include:

How To Attain Proper Vitamin D Levels

As the evidence shows, vitamin D is one nutrient that you cannot afford to become deficient in. According to a 2011 study, most people are deficient in vitamin D because they do not spend enough time outdoors (or spend too much time lathered in sunscreen) and they do not get enough in their diet.

Luckily, getting proper vitamin D levels is usually a simple fix. The best place to start is by having blood work done to determine your vitamin D needs. If your blood work shows you are deficient or low in vitamin D, consider spending more time outside in the sun without wearing sunscreen.

Another great way to increase vitamin D levels is by eating foods that are good sources, which include red meat, oily fish, liver, egg yolks, mushrooms, spinach, and fortified foods. But even with eating foods that are high in vitamin D, it is difficult to reach the daily recommended levels.

If you are concerned with the possible consequences of the sun, such as skin cancer, wrinkles and sun spots, consider taking Vitamin D3 which offers a safe and effective way to hit your daily vitamin D levels. By ensuring a healthy vitamin D intake, you can wear all the sunscreen you want outdoors knowing your vitamin D levels are covered.

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Vitamin D Tablets: Do You Need Them During Winter?

Vitamin D Tablets: Do You Need Them During Winter?

Vitamin D Tablets: Do You Need Them During Winter?

During winter, we tend to hear lots about vitamin D. Since the sunlight is our primary source of the nutrient, this makes sense – and many compensate for the seasonal gloom by consuming a vitamin D tablet. But is this essential for everybody? Read on to find out.

How to Get More Winter Vitamin D: Eat Free-Range Eggs

Before we venture into supplement territory, let's discuss how you might obtain more vitamin D from dietary sources.

Free-range eggs have never been more popular. In fact, they now account for 48% of the total egg market (for year to September 2016). Switching to free-range eggs might be motivated by ethical considerations, but it turns out that happy eggs are also far healthier, containing less fat and cholesterol, higher amounts of omega-3s and more vitamin A, E – and now D.

In a new study by the University of Reading, free-range eggs were shown to contain up to 30% more vitamin D than those from factory farms. Eggs from organic farms also had higher levels of calcifediol, known for helping the body absorb calcium. 270 eggs sold by UK supermarkets were analysed in the study, which determined that organic free-range eggs were the best for vitamin D, containing 2.2 micrograms compared with 1.7 mcg for typical barn eggs.

Findings were published in the Food Chemistry journal, which cited exposure to sunlight as the main reason for the discrepancy. “Unlike the conventional indoor egg production system, free range and organic birds have more opportunity to be exposed to sunlight as they can access pasture continuously during the day. “It is probable that the main reason for greater concentrations of vitamin D3 and calcifediol in eggs from free range and/or organic systems is higher sun exposure of the laying birds.”

Vitamin D Food Sources

When asked how you like your eggs in the morning, perhaps your answer from now on should be “organic and free range, please!” At least during the winter months, when most of us struggle to get enough vitamin D.

Incidentally, the recommended daily allowance for an adult in the UK is 10 mcg – although many believe a much higher dose is required. Vitamin D deficiency is hardly a trifling matter: it’s been linked to obesity and osteomalacia, among other things. It can also cause rickets in children.

Of course, free-range eggs aren’t the only foods you should consider to up your intake of vitamin D. Red meat and oily fish are also good sources, as are certain fortified breakfast cereals like All Bran.

There aren’t nearly as many food sources of vitamin D as there are for, say, vitamin C though. Which is unfortunate considering how useful it is to our bones, muscles, teeth and cells. Vitamin D is also one of the top vitamins for boosting the immune system, which is crucial for fighting off seasonal illnesses.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you could well struggle to hit your daily vitamin D quota, unless you’re in the habit of starting every day with a five-egg omelette! Even if you’re a carnivore, it can be tricky to get enough without the aid of a vitamin D supplement.

A Therapeutic Option for Eczema?

The free-range egg study came to light last week, at around the same time research by the Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea, showed a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema.

The Korean researchers also conducted four randomised controlled trials on vitamin D supplementation as a treatment for sufferers, and asserted that it could represent a new therapeutic option for the condition.

Whether the Korean study is relevant to you or not, you could greatly benefit from incorporating a vitamin D supplement into your day-to-day diet. A good choice is Planet Source Vitamin D3 5000iu Drops, a liquid form of Vitamin D3 bound in natural oils for easy absorption into the body.

You might be wondering why that’s higher then the UK recommended daily allowance, but there’s plenty of research out there advocating that adults should consume 2,000-5,000 IU per day, with one study showing that 5,000 is better for treating mild to moderate vitamin D deficiency.

The Vitamin D Council believes 10,000 IU per day should be the upper limit, although the figure varies depending on age and body weight. It’s worth bearing in mind that the body can naturally produce between 10,000 and 25,000 IUs of vitamin D after a little full-body sun exposure.

Don't Put Up with Vitamin D Deficiency

The encroaching darkness that’s synonymous with winter can have all kinds of effects, both to body and mind, but vitamin D deficiency needn’t be something you soldier on with. Whether by relying on diet or a vitamin D supplement, you can ensure the time of year doesn’t affect your consumption of this vital vitamin.

 Why not check out our free ebook, "The Simple Steps to Optimum Health." Over the course of 60 pages we cover topics such as nutrition, hydration, stress, alkaline balance, digestion, detoxification and exercise. We all want to live long, healthy, energised lives and although body biochemistry is complex, understanding it is key to improving your overall wellbeing. Our ebook outlines recommended steps to nurture a healthier you.

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Why It’s Important to Know Your Vitamin D Status

Why It’s Important to Know Your Vitamin D Status

To observe Vitamin D Awareness Week, we felt it worth to summarise exactly why it is important for you to know your vitamin D status. As you will see below, the consequences of remaining oblivious of a possible vitamin D deficiency can be extremely unpleasant and disabling. If you do not know how to get yourself tested, you can learn in the final section of this article.

The Importance of Vitamin D Testing

Vitamin D Deficiency is Widespread

Vitamin D deficiency is common in the developed world. In Europe and the United States, around half of the population over the age of 50 is vitamin D deficient. About a third of all healthy adults have the same problem. At least 50 per cent and possibly as high as 80 per cent of American and European teenagers struggle with it too. The chance is thus good that your vitamin D levels are too low.

Vitamin D is Scarce

Vitamin D is genuinely difficult to obtain. Vitamin D3, the form the body prefers, is, with the exception of tiny amounts in fatty fish and cod liver oil, unavailable from the food you eat. Sunlight – from which your body produces it – is in short supply for at least six months a year, and even when it's available, air pollution and the amount of time you spend working indoors between 11 AM and 3 PM severely limits your exposure to it. Moreover, if you have a darker skin, wear sunscreen or wear clothes over your face and arms, you receive very little direct sunlight on your skin. Lastly, foods that are fortified with it are obviously, according to the above statistics, not going to give you enough.

Vitamin D Deficiency Lacks Clear Symptoms

Short of a direct test, there is no definite way to know whether you have sufficient levels of vitamin D. Deficiency can lay the groundwork for many diseases, as you will see below, but even if you contract one of these, you still won't know whether it's due to vitamin D deficiency without getting tested.

The Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency are Severe

Vitamin D deficiency is serious and can lead to a long list of either extremely painful or potentially fatal diseases like the following:

  1. It causes bone diseases like osteomalacia, osteopenia, and osteoporosis, which cause your bones to become soft, brittle, and thereby prone to painful fractures even when you do nothing other than walking or lifting objects. In children it causes a disease called rickets, which not only softens bone but also deforms it.
  2. It causes a long list of cancers, including prostate, colon, breast, ovarian, colon, rectal, gallbladder, laryngeal, thyroid, brain, and pancreatic cancer, the latter being particularly deadly. One scientist calculated that every year, 50,000 to 63,000 Americans and 19,000 to 25,000 British people die of cancer because of insufficient vitamin D, probably because adequate vitamin D reduces your risk of pancreatic cancer by 30 per cent.
  3. It causes both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. A healthy vitamin D intake during childhood can decrease your chance of developing diabetes 1 up to 31 years later, while an adequate intake can reduce your diabetes 2 risk by between 33 and 41 per cent.
  4. It causes inflammatory diseases like asthma and respiratory tract infections.
  5. It has been associated with multiple sclerosis.
  6. It increases your risk of catching flu and tuberculosis.
  7. It increases your risk of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and heart disease, including the likelihood of heart attack, stroke and death.
  8. It can cause your baby to be born with low birth weight and slightly underdeveloped.
  9. It increases your chance of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy and of being forced to have a caesarean section.
  10. Tentative research shows that it may also lead to brain disorders and cognitive and psychological diseases like Parkinson's disease, impaired memory, behaviour modification, cognitive dysfunction, Alzheimer's disease, language impairment, schizophrenia and depression.
  11. It causes autoimmune diseases like Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

How to Test Your Vitamin D Level

Vitamin D is usually tested as the amount of 25(OH)D that circulate in your bloodstream. The result is expressed as nmol/L (nanomole per litre) or ng/ml (nanograms per millilitre). If you receive an nmol/L score, you can divide it by 2.496 to get your ng/ml score. If you receive an ng/ml score, multiply it by 2.496 to get your nmol/L score. Typically, while Americans use ng/ml, the rest of the world uses nmol/L.

The easiest way to get tested is to ask your doctor to draw some blood and send it off to a laboratory, especially if you have health insurance that covers this. As many doctors do not prioritise vitamin D deficiency as a significant health problem, however, they may not want to test for it on the NHS. You then have two options. Firstly, you can prick your finger and collect the blood on a strip of paper or in a tiny bottle. Ask your doctor or your nearest University's medical faculty for the name of a laboratory that accepts private submissions. You can then send it in and have such a laboratory tested for you.

Alternatively, the easiest solution may be to order a test kit online from a laboratory or an organisation that partners with a laboratory. This normally consists of an instruction sheet, a blade, a paper strip to collect the blood, and even plasters to patch yourself up. Follow the instructions carefully, and return the blood you collect in the envelope that is usually included with the test.

City Assays is British and offers home-based blood tests (£28 per testing kit), the result of which is tested in an NHS lab. They offer a discount on the more tests ordered – so you might want to mention this to your friends and family.

How to Obtain Sufficient Vitamin D

According to many organisations, the minimum amount of vitamin D in your blood should be 20 ng but most scientific studies show that a minimum of 30 ng/ml is necessary to avoid the diseases listed above. A good approach is to aim for anything between 30 and 50 ng/ml or 74.8 and 124.8 nmol/L. It is impossible to get this test score from food, and even from British sunlight, although sunlight would be ideal if you can manage to be outside between 11 AM and 3 PM on most days when the sun is directly overhead. If 15 minutes of direct sunlight between 11 AM and 3 PM every day is impossible, as it is during this time of the year, vitamin D supplementation is by far the best option to ensure that you have to actively remain healthy.  

Why not check out our free ebook, "The Simple Steps to Optimum Health." Over the course of 60 pages we cover topics such as nutrition, hydration, stress, alkaline balance, digestion, detoxification and exercise. We all want to live long, healthy, energised lives and although body biochemistry is complex, understanding it is key to improving your overall wellbeing. Our ebook outlines recommended steps to nurture a healthier you.

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The Four Most Common UK Nutritional Deficiencies

The Four Most Common UK Nutritional Deficiencies

We usually associate the idea of nutritional deficiencies with poor countries, but here in our land of plenty, there are at least four nutrients that many people lack.

Some fall short due to their unhealthy diets, others because of unusual dietary choices, and others still owing to health conditions that are becoming relatively common.

These nutrients are calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and iron. In this blog, we intend to underscore their importance.

Calcium: Deficiency and Sources


Calcium is one of the most important minerals, of which we also need the largest daily intake. It is necessary to develop and maintain strong bones and teeth, to develop normal muscle and nerve function, and to maintain healthy blood pressure.

Because we can’t produce calcium naturally, we must get the mineral from the food we eat each day.

The most common symptoms and consequences of calcium deficiency are tingling sensations in your face, hands and feet, weak and brittle bones, involuntary muscle contractions, wild fluctuations in blood pressure, irregular heartbeats and an increase in heart rate.

Those who are vitamin D deficient, have coeliac disease, osteoporosis, kidney disease or hypothyroidism, are postmenopausal or breastfeeding, and those who consume plenty of animal products and cow’s milk, are all at an increased risk of a calcium deficiency.

This last group constitutes a significant percentage of the population.

To overturn a common myth, cow’s milk is NOT a good source of calcium, as scientists have proven that the excretion of calcium in your urine and your risk of osteoporosis increase with the amount of animal proteins you consume. To enjoy the benefits of sufficient calcium, your body should store it, not excrete it.

Many green vegetables are particularly rich in calcium. These include kale, spinach, collard greens, bok choy and broccoli. Pulses and their derivatives like soya, tofu, edamame and white beans are equally good.

If you eat seafood, try sardines, salmon and shrimp. Oranges and figs are the best fruits.

Vitamin D: Deficiency and Sources


Without vitamin D, your body cannot absorb and use calcium. As with calcium, a shortfall can make you seriously ill or even kill you.

As those with vitamin D deficiency are probably short of calcium too, many of the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are similar to those of calcium deficiency. They include bone pain, brittle and soft bones, muscle weakness, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment and asthma.

Those with insufficient levels of vitamin D are also more likely to be depressed, which explains the ‘winter blues’ with which so many people struggle.

Those who spend very little time outdoors in direct sunlight are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. This includes almost the entire British population between October and March. If you work indoors between 11 AM and 3 PM, you don’t get enough sun during the summer either. Those who eat mostly raw food and shun artificially fortified foods are also at risk.

Dark-skinned people and the elderly may fall short, because their bodies produce substantially less vitamin D in response to sunlight. What’s more, vitamin D’s fat solubility makes it more likely that those who are obese or struggle with food allergies may lack it.

As of 2016, Public Health England recommend that all UK residents use a supplement during autumn and winter.

Your body produces vitamin D in response to sunlight. 20 minutes of direct sunlight on your bare skin per day should be enough. Since this is very difficult to achieve during winter, you may need to obtain your vitamin D via a supplement or fortified food.

Many brands of bread, cereal and soy products are fortified. A good vitamin D supplement, however, is the best way to ensure that you receive a sufficient daily amount.

Magnesium: Deficiency and Sources

Magnesium has some of the same health effects as calcium. It helps to build and maintain strong bones and teeth, plays a vital role in muscle relaxation, facilitates communication between nerves and muscles, activates hundreds of enzymes with numerous functions, and helps with metabolism.

If you suffer from magnesium deficiency, you may experience muscle spasms, muscle cramps and involuntary movements. This is because your muscles are in a permanent state of contraction – including your heart muscle, which leads to irregular or fast heart rate.

You may also struggle with weak bones and bone fractures, irritability, anxiety and impaired cognitive function. Since magnesium play such a large role in so many bodily functions, the other symptoms of a magnesium shortage are still poorly understood.

Those who consume plenty of dark coloured sodas may be magnesium deficient, as the phosphates they contain bind to magnesium in the digestive tract, making it unavailable for use. Excessive stress and intake of caffeinated, diuretic drinks also contribute.

If you consume significant amounts of sugar, you may also be magnesium deficient, as researchers have found that sugar and the insulin it triggers increase the amount of magnesium excreted in your urine. Seniors’ bodies also seem less efficient at absorbing it.

The depletion of magnesium from our soil has led many experts to wonder whether it is possible to get sufficient magnesium from our diets. As with calcium, you must obtain it from plant sources, as your body tends not to store the magnesium found in milk.

Spinach, Swiss chard, potato with skin, and okra are good vegetables, especially if you can find organic varieties. Soya products are particularly nutrient-rich, with edamame, tempeh, soya nuts and tofu leading the pack. Other pulses like peas and lentils are great. Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts and cashews are healthy treats.

Quinoa also contains some magnesium, if you want to make a grain bowl. Eat as many of these as possible, as the amount of magnesium in each plant source may have been reduced due to poor soil.

Iron: Deficiency and Sources


Your body uses iron to produce a protein called haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood to all the tissue that needs it. An iron deficiency is called anaemia.

The most common symptoms of iron deficiency are extreme fatigue, weakness and dizziness, which signal that many cells throughout the body are struggling without oxygen. A tingling feeling, especially in your legs, is the normal sign that your nerves are affected.

Pale skin and cold extremities, such as hands and feet, indicate a lack of sufficient blood flow. When your heart rate accelerates and you start experiencing headaches, you need to see a doctor.

Women who menstruate heavily may need to fill up on iron for a few days a month. Since iron is particularly crucial during times of development and growth, pregnant women and growing children might also fall short of meeting their needs.

If you have a stomach ulcer or some other cause of internal bleeding, you must pay special attention to dietary iron ore supplements. The same holds for those with coeliac disease.

Sprinkle pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and flax seeds on everything. Cashews and pine nuts are also good. Spinach, turnip greens and Swiss chard are the green vegetable stars. Lentils, white beans and soya products contain some iron too.

Stock up on whole grains like quinoa and oatmeal. If you eat meat – which you should keep to a minimum because of its acidic effects – you can obtain it from beef, liver, chicken and oysters.

Skip Refined Processed Food for Better Health

If you eat a lot of processed bleached flour, refined sugar, refined salt and products that contain plenty of these, you are an ideal candidate for nutritional deficiencies because none of these foods contain many nutrients. That is the tragedy of our 21st-century diet; it contains plenty of food but precious few nutrients!

One product you may be interested in is Maximum Vibrance. A green superfood powder, it contains mostly concentrated alkalising vegetables and fruits and is packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

There are over 120 ingredients in total, with each serving yielding 20g of plant protein and 1,000 i.u. of vitamin D from lichen oil (250% of your RDA). Maximum Vibrance also boasts 25 billion probiotics from 12 different strains, 10% of your daily calcium and magnesium, and 50% of your daily iron.

Insofar as any one product can be termed an all-in-one, Maximum Vibrance certainly fits the bill.

Conclusion

Some people fall short of nutrients due to their unhealthy diets, others because of unusual dietary choices, and others still owing to health conditions that are becoming relatively common.

The aim, as ever, should be to eat good natural food – plenty of leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, as well as weekly servings of fatty fish for their omega-3 content.

Follow a sensible eating plan and you’ll avoid the nutritional deficiencies which affect so many. When it’s sufficiently packed vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, food really is the best medicine!

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