Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin that supports bone development and maintenance, the proper functioning of the immune system, and the body's absorption of calcium.
Unfortunately, this nutrient exists in precious few food sources. The body produces around 90 per cent of its vitamin D supply from direct sunlight.
It may, however, be necessary to take a vitamin D supplement even during the summer.
Read on to find out more about the importance of vitamin D, and why Brits may need to supplement even during the summer.
Insufficient Direct Sunlight
For the body to produce vitamin D from sunlight, the sun needs to hit the naked arms, face and hands directly.
Not everyone spends enough time in the sun during the summer for their bodies to produce enough vitamin D; the sun is overhead only between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., the exact time during which most people work indoors.
Only those who make an effort to spend at least 15 minutes outdoors during their lunch breaks spend sufficient time in the sun.
During hot summer days, this is precisely the time that people want to hide from the heat in their air-conditioned offices, so the lunchtime sunbathers are few and far between.
Of course, there’s another pressing problem when it comes to vitamin D: UK summers don’t consistently and reliably provide enough daily sunshine for us to maintain a healthy intake.
Sunscreen Stops Vitamin D Being Made
To prevent cancer, physicians warn that people should refrain from spending time in direct sunlight without sunscreen. This advice is most essential to follow during summer.
Since sunscreen is designed to block the sun from the skin, it also completely impedes the body’s ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D. This is equally true for children.
Even though kids might be lucky enough to spend some time on the playground or sports fields between noon and 3 p.m., parents must apply sunscreen to their arms and faces before they leave home in the morning.
Darker Skinned People Need More Sun
Dark-skinned people have an even bigger problem. The dense pigmentation in the outer layer of their skins blocks the sun from passing through, which is why they burn only after spending a long time in the sun.
The downside is that they must spend a lot more time in direct sunlight to obtain enough vitamin D. Once again, most people want to spend the hot summer days indoors where it is cooler.
Pollution and High Buildings Impact Vitamin D Generation
City dwellers have additional problems. High buildings block sunlight from the pavements, where people in smaller towns can catch enough sun just while walking.
Even worse, high levels of pollution in the form of smoke clouds that hang over cities block the sun from their inhabitants.
Pollution is not a city problem alone, of course, but it is experienced most in cities and possibly smaller towns with a lot of industrial activities.
Therefore, summer cannot guarantee that the body creates and absorbs an adequate amount of vitamin D.
Insufficient Dietary Supply
Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, and eggs are good options for those who eat animal products. These are foods that those on healthy alkaline diets try to limit or exclude.
Furthermore, while several food types are fortified with vitamin D, especially in our northern hemisphere where sun is often in short supply, everyone may not eat the food that is so fortified.
Packaged breakfast cereals, some bread, and some powdered milk are commonly fortified. These are among the foods that healthy dieters try to avoid due to the refined carbohydrates, refined sugar, and preservatives found in them.
This leaves the healthiest people without vitamin D.
Expectant Mothers, Kids and & Elderly Should Supplement
The NHS recommends that all pregnant and breastfeeding women should take a daily supplement of at least 10 micrograms (0.01mg) of vitamin D. The purpose is to ensure that the mother’s vitamin D requirements are met, but also to build adequate foetal stores for early infancy.
It simply is not possible to trust that the sun provides enough vitamin D, primarily because you can never tell how much your body manages to produce from the sunlight it receives.
The NHS suggests that children up to five years need regular vitamin D drops to meet their required 7-8.5 micrograms of vitamin D a day. Breastfed infants whose mothers did not take a supplement during pregnancy must also be given vitamin D drops from one month of age.
Serious life-long bone disorders can develop if young kids do not receive enough vitamin D at the time their bones first develop. This also happens to be the years in a child’s life that parents want to limit exposure to direct sunlight because of the sensitivity of that newly developing skin.
Many senior citizens suffer from a vitamin D shortage. Even in sunny American states like Florida, 40 per cent of the elderly have been found to be vitamin D deprived.
This may well be because their bodies lose the ability to create or absorb it. The NHS includes senior citizens in the groups of people who need vitamin D supplements, in their case at least 10 micrograms (0.01mg) per day.
There is no consensus on the amount of vitamin D that people need, however. Over the past few years the requirement has been adjusted upward, so the NHS recommendations may even be too low.
We tend to agree with the Vitamin D Council, who recommend 5,000 IU per day for adults. This is equal to 125 mcg.
Be Safe and Supplement
There is no guarantee that you can get sufficient vitamin D even during the summer. If any of the above circumstances apply to you, take your vitamin D supplement throughout the entire year, and especially during low light seasons like autumn and winter.
Our sublingual vitamin D from Frunutta is a great option. These micro tablets quickly dissolve and disperse under the tongue, eliminating the artificial colours, flavours, chemicals and fillers found in other vitamins.
What you get is pure vitamin, and two strengths are available: 5,000 IU and 1,000 IU. Pop one tiny tablet per day and you’ll ensure a healthy intake of vitamin D, whatever the weather.
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.
Since sunscreen is designed to block the sun from the skin, it also completely impedes the body’s ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D.