Here comes the sun – and the vitamin D!

Here comes the sun - and the vitamin D

Get yourself outside this summer to enjoy all the benefits of vitamin D. And we do mean outside – you need direct contact between sunlight and skin so it doesn’t work if you’re sitting behind a glass window!

Get outside

Making the most of the great outdoors is therefore a must. Is there somewhere outside you can sit on your lunchbreak? Could you move staff meetings to an outdoor venue if you have a garden or a park nearby? Are you able to walk from the train station to the practice instead of hopping on a bus or tube? At the weekend or on your days off, could you take the family or meet friends down the beach? Something as simple as having a BBQ or eating dinner in the garden at home would help too.

Passing on similar advice to your patients to get them outside this summer could help them maintain their health and wellbeing too. Of course, caution should be taken to not spend too long in the sun and to ensure the necessary protection. However, the advantages of 10 minutes in the sunshine could extend far beyond a good tan, so it’s definitely worth doing!

What’s all the hype about?

When UVB radiation in sunlight hits our skin, our bodies synthesise vitamin D. It is estimated that we need 5-10 minutes of direct sunlight 2-3 times a week for sufficient vitamin D production. Summer is therefore the perfect time of year to catch up on some rays!

But why is this a good thing?

Firstly, it appears that vitamin D could make us happier. While more conclusive research is needed, a lack of vitamin D has been linked to a higher risk of depression,[i] while the opposite supposedly puts us in a better mood.

Secondly, higher vitamin D levels have been associated with a lower risk of certain health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma severity and even cancer. This is because vitamin D plays important roles in:[ii]

  • Supporting a healthy immune system, brain and nervous system
  • Regulating insulin levels
  • Supporting lung function and cardiovascular health
  • Regulating cell growth and cell communication.


Teeth benefit too!

Another benefit of vitamin D is that it helps to maintain the health of bones and teeth. Deficiency increases the risk of rickets, osteomalacia, bone metabolism and fractures.[iii] This is because the substance helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for bone health. It also facilities mineralisation of newly formed bone and aids muscle function.[iv] Within the oral cavity, vitamin D can have an impact on tooth enamel calcification, tooth eruption and tooth position.[v]

In addition, there is evidence to suggest that vitamin D supports treatment of periodontal disease, due to its anti-inflammatory,[vi] antibacterial and tumour-suppressing[vii] properties. It has also been shown to have a promising effect on caries prevention.[viii]

Give yourself a boost

Give yourself – and your patients – a boost this summer. Enjoy some rays and increase your vitamin D production. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!

References

[i] Archer D. Vitamin D deficiency and depression. July 2013. Psychology Today. Click here to visit the website. [Accessed June 2019]

[ii] Ware M. What are the health benefits of vitamin D?

[iii] Laird E, Ward M, McSorley E, Strain JJ, Wallace J. Vitamin D and bone health: potential mechanisms. Nutrients. ;2(7):693–724. doi:10.3390/nu2070693

[iv] National Osteoporosis Society. Vitamin D and bone health: A practical guideline for patient management. April 2013. Click here to read the guidelines. Accessed June 2019]

[v] Jordan E, Davis S, Rakes S, McCauley LK, Bashutski J. Vitamin D and dental health. In: Watson R.R. (eds) Handbook of vitamin D in human health. Human Health Handbooks, vol 4. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen

[vi] Stein SH, Tipton DA. Vitamin D and its impact on oral health – An update. Journal of the Tennessee Dental Association. March 2011. 91(2):30-0, quiz 34

[vii] Khammissa RAG, Ballyram R, Jadwat Y, Fourie J, Lemmer J, Feller L. Vitamin D deficiency as it relates to oral immunity and chronic periodontitis. International Journal of Dentistry. 2018; Article ID 7315797, 9 pages. Click here to visit the website.

[viii] Hujoel PP. Vitamin D and dental caries in controlled clinical trials: systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews. February 2013; 71(2): 88-97. Click here to visit the website.

 

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