Vitamin D deficiency – the amount of sunlight you need to avoid symptoms

Vitamin D is crucial for the body, as it helps to keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy, according to the NHS. Without enough vitamin D, it’s difficult to regulate the amount of calcium or phosphate in the body. A severe lack of the vitamin may even lead to bone deformities, rickets, or osteomalacia. You could lower your risk of a vitamin D deficiency by spending time outside in direct sunlight.

The absorption of vitamin D can happen very quickly

Dr Sarah Jarvis

Exposing your skin to ultraviolet rays is the most natural way to top up on vitamin D, according to GP, Dr Sarah Jarvis.

Between the months of April and September, the best time to spend outside is between 11am and 3pm.

You don’t need to stand outside for very long to top up on vitamin D either – just half the amount of time it usually takes you to burn, she said.

“You need to have your face and upper extremities exposed between 11am – 3pm from April to September in the UK in order to make Vitamin D in the body,” said Dr Jarvis.

“The absorption of vitamin D can happen very quickly, particularly in the summer. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D.

“You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to begin to burn.

“How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live in the world and the colour of your skin.

“The more skin you expose the more vitamin D is produced.”

During the autumn and winter months, everyone should aim to eat more vitamin D-rich foods, she added.

That’s because the axis of the Earth, as well as reduced daylight hours, makes it more difficult for the body to absorb enough ultraviolet to make vitamin D.

Some of the best foods for avoiding a vitamin D deficiency include oily fish, red meat, egg yolks, and some fortified drinks.

Everyone should also consider taking a 10mcg supplement of vitamin D from the end of September until early April, said the Department of Health.

You could be at risk of a vitamin D deficiency if you often feel tired or run down.

Other common vitamin D deficiency symptoms include developing aches and pains, having a sweaty head, and finding it difficult to fall asleep.

People most at risk of the condition are those that don’t spend much time outdoors, or live in a care home.

Speak to a doctor if you’re worried about the signs or symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency, or if you think you’re at risk.

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