When our bare skin is exposed to sunlight, a chemical reaction takes place, which in due course converts UVB rays into the hormone version of vitamin D that our bodies require. 1 in 5 people living in the UK are currently deficient in vitamin D. This is not necessarily a bad thing when you consider the main reason for this may be due to us all taking much more care in the sun with advances in sunscreen and greater awareness of the risks to sun exposure. Skin cancer and premature ageing are very real risks when we expose ourselves to the sun without adequate protection, so sunscreen is essential.
Because our skin is less exposed to sunlight, stores of vitamin D (which break down quickly) are running very low in some cases throughout the winter months and even during the summer. You may not realise you are deficient, but there are various signs to look out for. Are you feeling much more tired than usual? Are you having any difficulty sleeping? Low mood, weight gain and gut troubles are all linked to vitamin D deficiency, along with general aching and muscle weakness. You may even find that you are contracting repetitive coughs and colds and feeling generally unwell. Known as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D enables the body to absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet, meaning that the health of our bones and teeth are at risk if we are vitamin D deficient.
Young children in particular can face delays to their development and develop a condition called rickets. A deficiency can also increase their risk of getting tooth decay and periodontal disease.
A simple blood test can determine whether or not you require your levels to be topped up, which you can ask your GP for if you have concerns. As well as improving the above ailments, keeping your vitamin D at an appropriate level is vital for the following reasons too…
- Supports the health of the immune system, brain and nervous system
- Supports lung function and cardiovascular health
- Regulates insulin levels and aid diabetes management
- Influences the expression of genes involved in cancer development
- Maintains the health of bones and teeth
Government health advisors recommend boosting our levels with supplements, which is the quickest and most effective way to inexpensively boost low levels. Health experts also estimate that sensible sun exposure for up to 10 minutes on bare skin a few times per week allows most people to produce sufficient levels of vitamin D. We are physically unable to acquire enough vitamin D through diet alone, but eating some fatty fish like tuna, mackerel or salmon every so often will help to boost your levels. Many foods are now fortified with vitamin D as a daily light supplement. These are often in the form of breakfast cereals, some fruit juices and a few dairy products such as milk, egg yolks and cheese, so be on the look-out for those.
If you have concerns that your oral health has been impacted by a possible deficiency in vitamin D, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at the practice. Our friendly team is on hand to alleviate those concerns and take appropriate action as soon as possible if needed. Please contact us on 020 7487 5221. We look forward to hearing from you. Stay hydrated in these temperatures and enjoy the summer!