The Sunshine Vitamin
The Vitamin D story so far
You will have heard the news about Vitamin D and its highly protective effect against seasonal respiratory infections (BMJ 2017;356:i6583).
The WellMan Clinic introduced our “Sunshine Vitamin” preparation fifteen years ago, and, as you probably know, we strongly recommend our patients to take an adequate daily dose. We now consider that an adult dose of 2000IU (two capsules) in the summer and 4000IU (four capsules) in the winter is appropriate.
Please do take a minute or two to read the attached text.
We all know Vitamin D is good for our teeth and bones – but it does have other important health advantages as well.
At the WellMan Clinic, medical experts have spent years looking into the benefits of Vitamin D, and as a result, we bring you our highest potency Sunshine Vitamin D3.
Unlike other Vitamin D products, our supplement is free from other vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, and gives you just pure Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), dissolved in natural organic oil.
It comes in an easy-to-swallow, highly absorbable softgel capsule.
So why not try it now – and put a little sunshine back into your life!
(+ £4 P&P)
To order, please contact us on [email protected] or call us on 020 7637 2018.
Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium, which is vital for healthy teeth, muscles and bones. It may also reduce the risk of a whole host of other diseases and conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and seasonal infections such as influenza and the common cold.
The main cause of Vitamin D deficiency is lack of sun exposure, particularly in northern regions of the world, where we live more indoor lifestyles, cover up to avoid the dangers of the summer sun or use high SPF sunscreens. One in six people in the UK now suffer from a severe lack of Vitamin D. This rises to nearly one in three among the over 65s, and more than nine out of ten people of south Asian origin living in the UK.
Even a healthy diet during the summer months won’t necessarily be enough to maintain good Vitamin D levels. That’s why it is advisable to take a Vitamin D supplement in conjunction with a healthy balanced diet.
Other ingredients of our “Sunshine Vitamin”
Olive oil and softgel capsule (gelatine, glycerine, water). Contains no sugar, salt, starch, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, milk, egg, shellfish or preservatives.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is often known as the “Sunshine Vitamin” but it’s actually not a vitamin at all! It is in fact, a hormone, with its receptors found in a wide range of human cells.
How do we get it?
The main source of Vitamin D is ultraviolet (UVB) sunlight, which changes a type of cholesterol found in your skin to Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). The liver and kidneys then help to activate the exact amount of Vitamin D that you need. Only a small quantity of Vitamin D is found in our diet, for example, eggs, margarine, oily fish, certain vegetables, and some fortified cereals. In some countries (but not the UK) Vitamin D is also added to milk and bread.
Who needs it?
Everyone needs Vitamin D. But some groups of people3 are more lacking in Vitamin D than others. These include:
- * People with naturally brown or black skin, who produce less Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight
- * People who wear clothing that fully conceals their bodies from the sun or who use a high SPF sun cream
- * People who don’t go outside much, particularly the elderly
- * Pregnant women, who need extra Vitamin D to help the growth of their unborn babies
- * Breast-feeding babies with Vitamin D deficient mothers
- * People who are clinically overweight or obese
- * People who use anticonvulsant medication to prevent seizures
- * People with severe liver or kidney disease
- * People who don’t get enough Vitamin D in their diet, for instance, vegans and vegetarians, may also be at risk of being Vitamin D deficient
How do I know if I am lacking Vitamin D?
Many people do not know that they are lacking Vitamin D. They may have no symptoms – or only mild ones – such as tiredness or general aches and pains. Your medical history or lifestyle (see above) may point to whether you have enough Vitamin D. A simple blood test to look at your 25-hydroxy Vitamin D3 levels, given by your GP or the WellMan Clinic will show whether or not you are Vitamin D deficient.
Why take it?
Vitamin D helps out bodies to absorb calcium, which is vital for healthy teeth, muscles and bones. It may also reduce the risk of a whole host of other diseases and conditions including cancer, dementia, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and seasonal infections such as influenza and the common cold.
Vitamin D and bone health
According to research, if you are Vitamin D deficient, your body may only absorb half the amount of calcium (from food) than someone who is said to have adequate levels.
As a result, not enough Vitamin D can lead to serious bone-softening conditions such as osteomalacia in adults, which can result in bone pain and muscle weakness or rickets in children. Originally considered a disease of poverty and often associated with the Victorian era, rickets is said to be on the increase again, particularly among children of African or Asian origin living in northern Britain.
A lack of Vitamin D can also contribute towards brittle bones. Medically known as osteoporosis, currently one in two UK women and one in five UK men over the age of 50 will fracture a bone, mainly as a result of this disease. It has also been linked to poor hearing in the elderly, where bones in the middle ear are malformed due to a lack of calcium.
Vitamin D and your muscles
Scientists have known for years that Vitamin D is essential for muscle strength, and research now shows a direct link between the sunshine vitamin levels and the build-up of fat in muscle tissue which can lead to decreasing muscle strength. This in turn can lead to balance problems, particularly in the elderly, and increase risk of falls. Because of Vitamin D’s effect on the eye muscles, a lack of the vitamin may also lead to short-sightedness.
Vitamin D and your teeth
Gum disease is caused by bacterial infections. If ignored, this can cause damage to the bone in your gums and result in tooth loss. Scientists believe that Vitamin D may be as important as calcium for your teeth. According to research, men with lower levels of Vitamin D may have a 61% higher risk of developing gum disease while women of the same age have a 74% higher risk.
Vitamin D – your heart and diabetes
According to scientists, inadequate levels of Vitamin D could increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and strokes. It is a fact that more cases of cardiovascular disease are found in countries farthest away from the equator, which have cold winters and little sunlight. Research suggests that Vitamin D may help to maintain healthy heart cells and help the heart perform its pumping function.
Not enough Vitamin D could also increase your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. Eating a balanced diet, increasing your amount of exercise, cutting down on your alcohol intake and avoiding smoking, together with prescribed medication, should be the recommended approach to treating these diseases. However, it is thought that supplements of Vitamin D may have a role in treatment and prevention.
Vitamin D and testosterone
Low levels of testosterone in men can result in a wide range of symptoms, including low sex drive, impotence, depression, irritability, tiredness and low self-esteem. Research has shown that men with normal Vitamin D levels have significantly higher testosterone levels than men who lack Vitamin D – and testosterone levels tend to be much lower in the winter months, when sunshine is at a minimum. A supplement of Vitamin D may help to naturally boost testosterone levels, either on its own or alongside testosterone replacement therapy. That’s why athletes like to train and compete in warm countries – it’s the sun that does it!
Vitamin D – pregnancy and breastfeeding
Low levels of Vitamin D when you are pregnant and breastfeeding can have an adverse effect on your baby’s growth. It can also put your baby at risk of being born with rickets or developing rickets in childhood.
The Food Standards Agency recommends you take a supplement containing at least 10 micrograms (400IU) of Vitamin D during pregnancy and while you’re breastfeeding. However, research shows that this may be inadequate, particularly if you are dark skinned, do not have enough skin exposure, or do not eat a healthy balanced diet.
Current data for the UK shows that women are more likely to be Vitamin D deficient than men and pregnancy poses a particularly high risk with one in four pregnant mothers being Vitamin D deficient during Winter and Spring. Vitamin D helps by decreasing premature births, increasing birth weight and reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia. There is mounting evidence to suggest that sufficient levels of Vitamin D in the unborn child and in early life may decrease the risk of a host of problems including MS and other autoimmune diseases in childhood and adulthood.
Controversially, babies who are breast fed are more likely to be Vitamin D deficient than those who are bottle fed on infant milk formula, which is Vitamin D fortified.
Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is most common in parts of the world where ultraviolet radiation from the sun is low. Currently, around 100,000 people in the UK have MS and Scotland has one of the highest incidences of the disease in the world.
Research now shows that there may be a link between Vitamin D and the gene that increases the risk of the disease. It has also been suggested that good Vitamin D levels may have what is called a ‘protective effect’ against the chance of you and unborn children developing MS.
Vitamin D is likely to be one of a number of factors involved in the development of MS, but ensuring adequate Vitamin D intake (by improved diet, sun exposure, or supplements) is likely to lower the chance of the condition developing.
Vitamin D and cancer
Laboratory and animal studies have suggested that Vitamin D may have anti-cancer benefits.
UK researchers have discovered that Vitamin D can affect the activity of over 200 human genes, some of which are associated with major cancers.
Vitamin D also has receptors in almost every cell in the body and could be involved in everything from telling cells when to die, to the production of proteins that suppress tumours.
One large European clinical study confirms that low levels of Vitamin D are directly linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer (cancer of the large colon or large bowel). There are also links between low Vitamin D and other cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. However, evidence for other cancers is still inconsistent or limited.
Those who are recommending Vitamin D say it may stop cells from growing into full-blown cancers, or keep tumours under better control. More research is needed to clarify whether Vitamin D alone directly prevents this disease or if having higher levels of vitamin D means people are just generally healthier.
Vitamin D, autoimmune disease and infection
Vitamin D could help boost your immune system and help you to fight infection. Research suggests that Vitamin D is involved in activating your body’s T-cells (or ‘killer’ cells), the cells that seek out and destroy invading bacteria or viruses.
Respiratory infections such as pneumonia are known to be associated with lack of sun exposure, and ultraviolet light was previously used to treat tuberculosis and skin infections. Evidence also suggests there is some protective effect of Vitamin D against swine flu, and low levels of Vitamin D are also associated with an increased number of asthma cases, as well as colds and flu.
In autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, T-cells mistake some of the body’s own cells as foreign invaders and attack them.
Scientists have discovered that by increasing levels of Vitamin D naturally, either by sensible sun exposure and good diet, or taking a Vitamin D supplement, you can improve your immune response.
Vitamin D and brain disorders
Scientists have shown a link between low levels of Vitamin D and mental function in older people. Researchers have found that when Vitamin D levels go down, degrees of mental impairment go up. People with impaired mental function are known to be more susceptible to dementia illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia affects about 750,000 people in the UL, most of whom have Alzheimer’s.
The risk of Vitamin D deficiency is higher among the elderly due to sunlight deprivation and inadequate nutrition. Older skins are also less able to produce the vitamin.
A lack of Vitamin D has also been linked with a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy and Seasonal Affective Disorder.