The short answer is, No. Your body needs sun exposure, specifically UVB rays, to create Vitamin D. London’s climate, needless to say, is not ideal for producing the vitamin.
I’ve been reading up on Vitamin D, because being dark skinned, and living so far north makes it is extremely challenging for me to get the necessary sun exposure.
How big of a problem is this?
A report published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapuetics in 2012 said that 50% of the world’s population is Vitamin D deficient and that this is “a particularly important public health issue because hypovitaminosis D is an independent risk factor for total mortality.”
It went on to say that “emerging research supports the possible role of vitamin D against cancer, heart disease, fractures and falls, autoimmune diseases, influenza, type-2 diabetes, and depression.”
That is not good news. Especially since, climate change notwithstanding, there is no immediate prospect of London enjoying hot, sunny winters.
What can we do?
The Vitamin D council recommends taking a supplement, and using tanning beds to get a UVB boost. It offers clear, sensible guidelines for the latter, suggesting just a few minutes of exposure (slightly more if you are dark skinned, less if very fair).
They have the following chart to help you decide on the best level of supplementation:
|Vitamin D Council||Endocrine Society||Food and Nutrition Board|
|Infants||2,000 IU/day||2,000 IU/day||1,000-1,500 IU/day|
|Children||2,000 IU/day per 25lbs of body weight||4,000 IU/day||2,500-3,000 IU/day|
|Adults||10,000 IU/day||10,000 IU/day||4,000 IU/day|
Vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means your body has a hard time getting rid of it if you take too much. The Vitamin D Council recommends taking no more than the upper limit, meaning do not take anymore than 10,000 IU/day for adults.
While these amounts seem like a lot, keep in mind that your body can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IUs of vitamin D after a little bit of full body sun exposure. Vitamin D toxicity, where vitamin D can be harmful, usually happens if you take 40,000 IU a day for a couple of months or longer.
Considering the important role Vitamin D plays in your overall health, it seems worthwhile to supplement it — at least during the winter. Of course, the other, delightful option is to go on holiday. Think of it as an investment in your health!
If you can recommend a good Vitamin D supplement, please share!