Vitamin d screen
Despite its name, vitamin D is not a regular vitamin. It's actually a steroid hormone that you are designed to obtain primarily through sun exposure, not via your diet. From sunlight exposure our skin absorbs it and our kidneys convert it to the form our body requires.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common with symptoms such as:
- Muscle/joint pain and weakness
- Bone pain
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Depression - Serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation, rises with exposure to bright light and falls with decreased sun exposure
- Regular sweating of the scalp
Based on clinical evidence we now fully appreciate the risks involved in being Vitamin D deficient, especially over long periods of time. This can increase the risk of:
- Many Cancers to include Bowel and Prostate – Vitamin D aids metabolic processes to include DNA repair.
- Cardiovascular disease - Vitamin D is very important for reducing hypertension, atherosclerotic heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
- Autoimmune diseases - Vitamin D is a potent immune modulator, making it very important for the prevention of autoimmune diseases, like multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Infections, including influenza – Vitamin D regulates the expression of genes that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses.
The risk factors for Vitamin D deficiency are:
- Lack of daily exposure to the sun.
- Over-use of sunblock
- Being house/office bound or spending long parts of the day inside
- Being overweight or having a Higher Muscle Mass - Vitamin D is a fat-soluble, hormone-like vitamin, which means body fat and muscle mass acts as a "sink" by collecting it, therefore you will need more Vitamin D.
- Being pregnant / breastfeeding
- If you are 50 or older – your skin does not make as much Vitamin D in response to sun exposure and your kidneys become less efficient at converting the Vitamin D in the form your body requires.
- If you suffer Gut Problems, Crohn’s, Coeliac or Gluten Sensitivity - vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means if you have a gastrointestinal condition that affects your ability to absorb fat, you may have lower absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D as well.
- Having darker skin- takes longer to produce Vitamin D
- Wearing clothes that cover up most of your body, often for cultural or religious regions.