When you’re in London, in the middle of summer, forget your images of sun, patios and lemonade in a jug. It’s grey skies, cool breezes and an hourly sprinkle. Flashback to my youth, with Shannon Hoon’s raspy voice crooning ‘’…and all I can do is just pour some tea for two… and speak my point of view but it’s not saaane… it’s not saaaaaaaayaaane…’’ words from the very single that made them famous before his untimely demise on some bus somewhere, choking on his own vomit. Oh, to be a rockstar… But I digress. No Rain? Yes Rain. At least everything’s green.
Which brings me to a question that many of my patients, especially here on the island of perpetual rain, ask of me, and that is… am I Vitamin D3 deficient? And… if I travel to southern Spain for a week to get my sun fix, am I okay for the rest of the year?
Answer – Non. Absolutement Non. Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of Vitamin D3 here in the UK is 400IU, however your body absorbs 10,000IU within 20 minutes (40 minutes for those who have darker skin tones) of exposure to the appropriate wavelength of sunlight (which theoretically happens in London between the months of April and October… but how many sunny days do we actually have here?) which would lead one to believe that 400IU is hardly sufficient enough. Can you store Vitamin D3? Only for about a week or two at the most. So, that lovely all-inclusive summer vacation on Cote d’Azur? The sun-dependent good mood hormones that the Vitamin D3 gave you will disappear with that tan.
This means that it isn’t surprising when we find out that more than half of UK residents are deficient in Vitamin D3. Not to mention other risk factors for deficiency, such as poor diet, obesity, institutionalization and overuse of sunscreen, all of which first world countries seem to have in spades. According to the British Medican Journal, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, cancers and autoimmune disorders have been strongly linked with lack of Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3’s relationship with calcium absorption in the bones is the most obvious, rickets being a severe form of vitamin D3 deficiency. With an aging population, Vitamin D3 and bone health should be one of the main priorities in preventative health care.
So, the short and the long of it? Take Vitamin D3 supplements during the winter months, at least 4000IU per day with meals. Nutri has just come out with a liquid form of this sunshine vitamin, each drop being 1000IU. Strawberry flavoured. Yum. And you’ll avoid being one of those ashen-faced depressed Londoners on the Central Line in the winter.