Vitamin D deficiency: How much of the sunshine vitamin should be taken to avoid risks

GMB: Dr Hilary discusses the benefits of taking Vitamin D

If you are a person who tends to shun the sun, suffer from milk allergies, or adheres to a strict vegan diet, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Known as the sunshine vitamin, it is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to sunlight. It also occurs naturally in a few foods including some fish and egg yolks but how much vitamin D should one be taking?

Co-founder and Medical Director at Bioniq, Konstantin Karuzin said: “”It’s important to ensure you take the correct dosage which can be evaluated by having a blood test.

“In light of the current global situation, we recommend taking 5000 IU per day,” recommended Karuzin.

Karuzin added that vitamin D synthesis requires a bit of sunshine and exercise.

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“To produce this microelement,” he began, “a person shouldn’t only be in direct sunlight from 11am until 2pm (without any UV protection on the skin).

“But also needs to be physically active for several hours.”

Karuzin continued: “When this vitamin is being developed in the skin under ultraviolet radiation, it needs to enter the bloodstream. This is only possible when exercising.”

Do take note this isn’t a recommendation to sit in the scorching sun between 11am and 2pm without sunscreen the whole time.

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Taking the recommended amount of vitamin D is highly beneficial to one’s health but taking too much of the vitamin can be counterproductive with constipation being a sign of this.

Constipation is when somebody finds it difficult to empty their bowels, and it’s usually associated with hardened faeces.

Researchers from King Fahad Medical City, Saudi Arabia, confirm that “hypercalcemia is responsible for producing most of the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity”.

This “includes gastrointestinal disorders” such as “constipation and diarrhoea”.

Vitamin D is useful for helping the body absorb and use calcium. However, as noted above, too much calcium is bad news.

Published in the Journal of Paediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism (JPEM), researchers found another symptom of too much vitamin D – aside constipation and diarrhoea – was stomach pains.

The researchers concluded: “Vitamin D administration implies several risks and must be prescribed only when needed and under strict medical control.”

Those most at risk of a vitamin D deficiency are the elderly, people that are overweight, and those that rarely venture outside.

Everyone should aim for between 8.5 and 10mcg of vitamin D in a single day, said the NHS.

During the winter months, the sun isn’t strong enough for your body to make vitamin D.

It’s therefore usually recommended that everyone takes vitamin D supplements during these months to increase the amount in their diet.

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