Missing The Sunshine: Are Vitamin D Supplements the Cure?

It goes by a variety of flattering names: the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, the superstar supplement, the cure-all. And if recent research is to be believed, vitamin D really does live up to its billing – good news for anyone feeling devoid of verve and vim as we approach the shortest day of the year.

The vitamin, which helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, is important for bone health and immune system function, and a lack of it can cause rickets. If that’s not enough to send you rushing to the pharmacy, then maybe the fact that our natural levels of vitamin D tend to plunge during these cold winter months will be.

According to the HSE, we don’t need vitamin D-rich foods every day because any of the vitamins our body doesn’t need is immediately stored for future use. The HSE says most people should be able to get the vitamin D they need by eating a varied and balanced diet and by getting some sun. If you take vitamin D supplements, it warns against taking too much, but 25 micrograms (0.025mg) or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

Martin Hewison, Professor of Molecular Endocrinology at Birmingham University’s Institute of Metabolism & Systems Research, says he has been persuaded of the case for vitamin D supplements by both his own work and other people’s studies. A recent study he led suggested maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D could even help prevent the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.

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