Have you been enjoying the sun over the last week? If so, did you know that the benefits from catching some rays extend well beyond getting a tan?
We all know how beneficial calcium is for the health of our teeth, but did you know that vitamin D is also essential, and a deficiency is thought to increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease?
Whilst teeth aren’t bones, they’re made up of similar tissue and therefore prone to many issues if a person develops rickets (which is one of the main side effects of vitamin D deficiency) including delayed bone formation in children, periodontal disease and caries.
Vitamins as a group are nutrients which cannot be created by the body and therefore must be taken in through our diet. Yet vitamin D can be made by our body when sunlight hits our skin.
In the UK 1 in 5 people have a Vitamin D deficiency, mainly due the lack of bright sunlight we experience, especially in the Autumn and Winter months. In recent years government health advisors have recommended boosting our levels with supplements which are cheap and can be bought from pharmacies, supermarkets or health food shops.
Ironically one of the suspected reasons for the recent increase in diagnoses of vitamin D deficiency, apart from a greater awareness by GP’s, is that we are all using SPF sunblock more than ever before, and this can prevent the UVB rays from reaching our skin. Yet this is obviously necessary to prevent skin cancer and premature aging, so how can we boost our level without risking these side effects?
• Take daily supplement containing vitamin D 10 mcg (400 international units) during Autumn and Winter months (October-April)
• Sensible sun exposure – Health experts have estimated sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times per week (certainly less than the time it takes for skin to redden or burn) is probably a safe balance between adequate vitamin D levels and any risk of skin cancer.
• Eat foods which provide vitamin D like fatty fish including tuna, mackerel, and salmon. There are also foods fortified with Vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, cereals, cheese and egg yolks.
So for the next few weeks enjoy the sun healthily, knowing you’re getting a boost of feelgood factor.