New Life Pharmacy in Glasgow is on a mission to raise awareness of vitamin D deficiency and in turn, reduce the number of people suffering from its related health issues.
In April 2012 Elizabeth Roddick, Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, pharmacist and owner of the New Life Pharmacy released a video on YouTube that explains the health risks of being deficient in vitamin D. Low levels of this important vitamin have been linked with diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism and cancer.
More recently, studies have found that a high level of vitamin D in women under the age of 75 can decrease the risk of macular degeneration and the loss of central vision, which is a main cause of partial-blindness in people over 50 years old (Qureshah, 2012). Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to health issues and diseases such as rickets, multiple sclerosis, depression and respiratory tract infections.
Vitamin D is produced when ultra violet (UVB) rays coming from the sun hit the skin. It is then absorbed through the liver where it is converted to calcidiol. It then works to check the calcium and phosphate levels in the blood, which are important for maintaining healthy bones. Vitamin D can also be found in some foods such as eggs, oily fish and fortified cereals.
It is common knowledge that all people’s vitamin D levels drop during the winter (November to March) as the sun is weaker during this time. A recent study (Qureshah, 2012) found that during the winter 28 percent of women had deficient levels of vitamin D, and 33 percent of women had insufficient levels. Being regarded as deficient means the level of vitamin D is less than 20ng/mL, insufficient is having 20-29ng/mL. Compare this with the summer statistics where only 5% are deficient in vitamin D and the contrast is clear.
According to Roddick, the skin needs to be exposed at the hottest time of the day (between 10am and 3pm) for about 15 minutes. These are the hours where the UVB rays are strongest and so vitamin D is most prevalent. This of course completely opposes the advice given out by skin cancer charities who urge sun bathers and holiday makers to stay out of the sun during these peak hours. Roddick does add, “It is of course very important than the skin does not burn since that can lead to skin cancer.”
Roddick believes that, “supplementation is required for most people. Also, because there are certain people who shouldn’t take vitamin D and a wide range of doses are available it can be confusing. Advice needs to be available when purchasing the products.”