Dark winter months: who needs additional vitamin D?

Dark winter months: who needs additional vitamin D?

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Vitamin D: Not everyone needs pills
The supply of vitamin D in Germany is insufficient, as recently emerged from a report by the DGE. The Lower Saxony Chamber of Pharmacists is now explaining to whom it makes sense to take additional vitamin D supplements and who is not. Caution is also advised when overdosing.

In the winter months, the sun's power wears off and people don't spend as much time outdoors. With less daylight, the body also produces less vitamin D. Preparations for food supplements promise a remedy. The Chamber of Pharmacists of Lower Saxony knows whether they make sense for everyone and what needs to be considered when taking them.

Many are affected in Central and Northern Europe

Adolescents and young adults, postmenopausal women, athletes and men over 50 are particularly at risk for a vitamin D deficiency. The daily use of quite low sun protection factors (over ten) in day creams or other care products can lead to an increased vitamin D requirement.

Prevent vitamin D deficiency

Those who spend enough time outdoors in spring and summer can produce enough vitamin D through their skin. From October to March, sunlight exposure is lower, the days are shorter, darker, and the intensity of the sun's rays is lower. In many places, UV radiation is not sufficient for vitamin D synthesis. The body then gradually consumes the vitamin D stored in the summer. Vitamin D supplies only provide a limited range of food over time. These include fatty fish, egg yolk, red meat, liver and breakfast cereals enriched with vitamin D or milk products. The Chamber of Pharmacists of Lower Saxony recommends that you follow a healthy, balanced diet in autumn and winter and that you regularly stay in the sun in the summer months with adequate sun protection. Anyone who thinks that they are unable to spend enough time in daylight in everyday life and who belongs to the risk groups should have their vitamin D levels checked regularly by a doctor.

Vitamin D protects against diseases

A lack of vitamin D promotes bone loss and can lead to osteoporosis and broken bones. Vitamin D deficiency can also promote muscle weakness, which can contribute to gait insecurity and a tendency to fall, especially in older people. Vitamin D promotes the incorporation of calcium into the bones and helps with rickets, osteomalacia, malassimilation, kidney diseases and with an underactive parathyroid gland. It is common to give the vitamin in combination with calcium for osteoporosis prophylaxis and therapy. Current findings, according to which a deficiency can also promote the development of chronic diseases, including autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, are controversial.

Beware of overdose

Those who want to take vitamin D supplements are best advised by their doctor or pharmacist. The doctor can check the vitamin D status in the laboratory. Too much vitamin D can cause calcium deposits, nausea, vomiting, increased thirst, increased urination, weakness and kidney failure. For dosage forms such as soft gelatin capsules with 20,000 IU. Vitamin D3 may only be taken once a week. The best way to purchase vitamin D supplements is from a pharmacy, advises the Lower Saxony Chamber of Pharmacists. Ökotest tested pharmacy-only preparations and over-the-counter nutritional supplements: the pharmaceuticals from the pharmacy performed significantly better. In the case of dietary supplements, considerable deviations in the actual vitamin D content were found in the test. (sb)

Author and source information

Video: Monthly patient safety theme: vitamin D (May 2022).