In the early 20th century there was a concerning high outbreak of rickets in the United Kingdom. This led Sir Edward Mellanby of Great Britain to focus on the work of Professor Elmer McCollum, who with Marguerite Davis discovered the first vitamin, vitamin A, in 1913.
Carrying on from McCollum’s research and findings, Mellanby decided that rickets might be a dietary deficiency disease.
Through his research and experiments he discovered that the cure for rickets was also a vitamin, which he named, Vitamin D.
The human body is able to produce its own vitamin D, this happens when you expose your skin to sunlight. Hense why it is called the 'sunshine vitamin'.
This is the only vitamin that the body can produce, other vitamins are included in foods or supplements.
So without sunlight, the body isn’t able to produce Vitamin D, therefore, leaving some people vitamin D deficient.
Due to low levels of sunlight in some countries, a lot more people are becoming vitamin D deficient, so to help increase these levels, people are being encouraged to alter their diets or to introduce vitamins D supplements into their lifestyles.
In the British Nutrition Foundation Annual Lecture (2019), Professor Susan Lanham-New approaches this subject: “There is a real need to promote more awareness of vitamin D deficiency across younger populations within the UK.
Even though Professor Lanham-New’s lecture focuses on the younger population, the deficiency is also a problem in adults aged 60 years and over.
If you are deficient of Vitamin D you may experience the following:
The vitamin D deficiency symptoms can be subtle so it’s best to make sure you are including Vitamin D in your diet, be it through food or supplements.
Lack of vitamin D can pose health risks and have been associated with severe asthma in children, cognitive impairments in older adults and cardiovascular disease.
It is being recommended by the UK government, for adults and children (over 5) to take 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D daily during the Autumn and Winter months, due to the lack of sunlight at that time of year.
However, some studies suggest that a higher intake in adults (up to 2000 IU) is needed to restore healthy levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D comes in many forms, but the best form is Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) as it is a natural form which the body doesn’t need to convert.
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