The most important nutrients for your health. It is critical for immune function, supple joints and a healthy brain. You have specifi c receptors for vitamin D throughout your central nervous system as well as the hippocampus, which is an area of your brain involved with memory. In 16 years as a doctor, I have seen lots of people with low vitamin D levels.


In extreme cases a defi ciency can cause improperly formed bones, rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Suboptimal levels of the vitamin can also affect people in other ways. For example, I am seeing increasing numbers of people with aches and pains for whom painkillers and medications haven’t worked and yet taking a vitamin D supplement has reduced their pain, if not eliminated it completely. Low levels of vitamin D can also be a factor in skin complaints including eczema. While there is, as yet, no defi nitive proof to say lack of vitamin D defi nitely causes the condition, I certainly look to optimise levels as part of any multi-pronged treatment strategy.


Often called the sunshine vitamin, D is produced when sunlight hits your skin. However, in the UK we can only make it between the months of May and October because that’s when UVB is at its strongest and this is the ray that’s responsible for vitamin D production. Your body only makes it if you’re not wearing sunscreen, but I’d still advise using sunscreen during the summer if you’re outdoors for long periods. There are also genetic variations that can infl uence your ability to manufacture vitamin D. If you have darker skin you will need more sunlight to make the same amount as someone with lighter skin. And although your body won’t make vitamin D from the sun during winter, it’s still worth going outdoors, as exposure to natural light helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm so you sleep well. What’s more, being active is always good for your body, especially over winter when the tendency is to want to hibernate. So embrace the outdoors!

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