Vitamin D

Vitamin D has several important functions. For example, it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy.A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain and tenderness as a result of a condition called osteomalacia in adults.

Vitamin D & Fibromyalgia (Important)

Vitamin D is arguably the most important Vitamin Fibromyalgia patients should be aware of. If your conditions limit your mobility you may be spending more time indoors than out, our primary source of Vitamin D is sunlight, so you may not be getting enough Vitamin D. It is also important to know the symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency as they are very similar to the symptoms of Fibromyaliga, so often your symptoms, or new symptoms, may be as a result of not having enough Vitamin D but it is easy to think they are just Fibromyalgia symptoms instead. If you are spending less time outdoors then speak to your doctor as a blood test can be used to indicate your Vitamin D levels. If you are having blood tests as part of a pathway to diagnosis and Fibromyalgia is suspected make sure your Vitamin D levels are being checked as part of these blood tests.

Good sources of vitamin D

We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight on our skin. The vitamin is made by our body under the skin in reaction to summer sunlight. However, if you are out in the sun, take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before you turn red or get burnt.

Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods. Good food sources are:

  • oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
  • eggs
  • fortified fat spreads
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • powdered milk
  • How much vitamin D do I need?

    Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by eating a healthy balanced diet and by getting some summer sun.

    Groups of the population at risk of not getting enough vitamin D are:

  • all pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • babies and young children under the age of five
  • older people aged 65 years and over
  • people who are not exposed to much sun, such as people who cover up their skin when outdoors, or those who are housebound or confined indoors for long periods
  • people who have darker skin such as people of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian origin
  • What does the Department of Health recommend?

    The Department of Health recommends:

    All pregnant and breastfeeding women should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (0.01mg) of vitamin D to ensure the mother’s requirements for vitamin D are met and to build adequate foetal stores for early infancy all babies and young children aged six months to five years should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D in the form of vitamin drops to help them meet the requirement set for this age group of 7-8.5 micrograms (0.007-0.0085mg) of vitamin D a day babies fed infant formula will not need vitamin drops until they are receiving less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, as these products are fortified with vitamin D breastfed infants may need to receive drops containing vitamin D from one month of age if their mother has not taken vitamin D supplements throughout pregnancy people aged 65 years and over and people not exposed to much sun should also take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (0.01mg) of vitamin D

    You can buy single vitamin D supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D (for use by under-fives) at most pharmacies and supermarkets. Women and children who qualify for and already participate in Healthy Start can get free supplements containing vitamin D.

    See the Healthy Start website for more information about the scheme.

    What happens if I take too much vitamin D?

    If you take vitamin D supplements, do not take more than 25 micrograms (0.025mg) a day, as it could be harmful. However, taking less than this is unlikely to cause any harm. Your body doesn’t make too much vitamin D from sun exposure, but always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you are out in the sun for long periods. Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause more calcium to be absorbed than can be excreted. The excess calcium can be deposited in and damage the kidneys. Excessive intake of vitamin D can also encourage calcium to be removed from bones, which can soften and weaken them.

    My personal advice

    I would always speak to a Doctor or Pharmacist before taking any supplements. But certainly if your taking more than 1,000 IU. It is important to be monitored while taking supplementation so what your body is absorbing can be monitored and toxicity prevented. You can’t get too much from sunlight only but you can get too much taking it by mouth, as it is fat soluble the body has a hard time getting rid of it if you do take to much. Problems are toxicity, stripping calcium from your bones, kidney problems, stones and increased risk of cardio vascular disease.

    “Very high levels of 25(OH)D can develop if you: take more than 10,000 IU/day (but not equal to) everyday for 3 months or more. However, vitamin D toxicity is more likely to develop if you take 40,000 IU/day everyday for 3 months or more.” – http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/am-i-getting-too-much-vitamin-d/

    “Taking 50,000 international units (IU) a day of vitamin D for several months has been shown to cause toxicity. This level is many times higher than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for most adults of 600 IU of vitamin D a day.” – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-d-toxicity/AN02008

    Test your Vitamin D levels at home for £25

    About the test

    The test is offered by the Pathology Department at City Hospital in Birmingham which is part of the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. They will send you the kit with instructions by first class post and then you return it to them in a prepaid envelope. They then use liquid chromatography mass spectrometry method to measure the Vitamin D in your blood. This will measure both Vitamin D2 and D3 levels (also known as the 25-hydroxy test) and they will provide a clear interpretation of the results all of with your D2 and D3 levels. The results are sent to the email address provided on the consent form. But if you would prefer they we can post results to you. The results are expressed as nmol/L which are the older units still used in the US and some laboratories in the UK, however you can covert them to ng/mL with the help of their Q&A Page on their website. The test is a “blood spot” test where you prick your finger and place a spot of blood onto a sheet which acts a bit like Blotting Paper and you put four drops of the sheet. They aim to process results in 5 days.

    How to buy the test

    To buy you need to ring them on 01215074278 and pay over the telephone by debit or credit card. The cost of the kit and service is £25 and for organisations that order 10 or more they offer a discount of £5 (£20 per test). You can order from overseas for £30 a test to be sent by airmail.

    Where to buy Supplements now

    Click here to buy Vitamin D now from Holland & Barrett
    Click here to buy Vitamin D now from LloydsPharmacy