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Today we’re straying away from the topic of back pain for the day and shifting our focus onto a vitamin that has a huge role to play in our body. Vitamin D’s importance is very understated, especially here in the UK when most people simply don’t get enough over the winter and early spring. There are also certain people who need to be taking more of the supplement, especially if they’re currently on medications for specific conditions. Stay tuned to find out where you can get vitamin D, what can inhibit your absorption of vitamin D, the ideal intake amount per day, and also why it’s relevant for you if you have back pain.

Where Can You Find Vitamin D?

It’s possible to get vitamin D through 3 different sources: food, supplementation and sunlight. With food, vitamin D is not hugely abundant and generally we don’t eat the foods containing it regularly enough to consider this a reliable source. Foods that contain it include oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods (cereals or fat spreads). It’s important not to rely on these foods as sources alone as they contain little of our recommended daily allowance (600iu) of the vitamin. For example, 100g of eggs contains just 87iu. Supplementation is one of the most common and convenient ways to ensure you’re getting enough. You’ll be able to see the amount of vitamin D the supplement contains on the ingredients list, with most containing around 1000iu. An average dose may be anywhere between 3-4,000iu, but it’s worth checking with your healthcare provider as to how much you should safely be taking and whether you need to be taking anymore as it is possible to over-consume. Generally around 10,000iu becomes toxic. Lastly, sunlight provides a pleasant way to absorb as much vitamin D as you need in around 15-30 minutes of sun exposure a day. The time can vary based on how much clothing you’re wearing as it’s absorbed through the skin. It’s not possible to overdose on this type of exposure as when your body has produced enough, it automatically ceases its production.

What Prevents You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

If you have inflammatory bowel conditions, you may not absorb vitamin D optimally through supplementation or through foods, which is why it may be necessary to get your daily dose through sunlight. Corticosteroids can also negatively influence your ability to absorb vitamin D, as can medications used to control cholesterol levels. If this is you, make sure to ask your doctor if your medication will affect you in this way and whether your levels can be tested. If you’re supplementing with vitamin D, try to take it with fats if possible – this can be why some vitamin D is provided in oil form. If you have regular capsules, you could try taking it with a fish oil supplement to ensure adequate absorption. If you’re sat in your conservatory thinking you’re getting your dose of vitamin D, you may also be mistaken there. Conservatories can block your absorption, as can wearing sunscreen. The benefits of wearing sunscreen however cannot be understated, so please don’t consider this a pass to forgo the suncream. As we mentioned before, just 15-30 minutes may be enough. It can also be argued that suncream users in general may never apply enough of the product to provide enough protection or apply it patchily, so you may still absorb it nonetheless. Other factors that inhibit vitamin D production is an increased amount of melanin in the skin, as can living further north in the world as the sunlight is more limited.

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Why Is Vitamin D Important?

So why should you be concerned with making sure you’re getting enough vitamin D? With all the processes that go on inside your body, vitamin D has a hand in around 5% of them. Although it doesn’t seem like much, it’s a huge amount – and they’re some of the most important processes. As it’s absorbed, vitamin D gets converted into a hormone that then goes on to influence cell growth, proliferation, apoptosis (the breaking down of ‘zombie’ or broken cells, where white blood cells recycle these cells to produce new and efficient cells). Apoptosis and cell proliferation work hand in hand by ensuring your body is effectively able to rid itself of mutated cells, the very first stage where cells can become cancerous. Right now, the benefit of taking vitamin D is stronger immune function, which during a pandemic can mean you’re better able to fight off infection and reduce inflammation. Muscle function is also positively affected.

If you have back pain, ensuring your body is able to effectively take away damaged cells and rebuild fresh ones is going to be vital. If you’re taking a calcium supplement, taking vitamin D alongside it (if your calcium doesn’t already contain it) is going to be helpful – this is often recommended to be taken if you’re at risk of osteoporosis or osteopenia, as is exercises with more impact and load-bearing to help you build bone density.

We hope today’s topic has been helpful if you’re looking for simple ways to optimise your health. Vitamin D is so important and it’s vital we get enough of it to ensure some of the very important body functions operate effectively. If you have any questions about today’s topic, or you’d like to get in touch, please do reach out to us either through our social channels, via email at info@themayfairclinic.com or by tuning in to our livestreams every weekday on our Facebook and YouTube channels. Remember, if you are struggling with back pain to check out our free membership area, where you can find lessons and exercises to help rehabilitate your back problem from home. Sign up today by visiting www.backinshapeapp.com.

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