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Hitting the news headlines today was the importance of vitamin D. A government-commissioned report states that everyone in the UK should be taking vitamin D supplements.

We asked Streamline Dietician, Nicole Berberian to explain the importance of vitamin D and what this means for bariatric patients.

“Vitamin D is essential, as it regulates the amount of calcium in body. This is important for muscle and bone function, teeth, immune function and cell signaling throughout the body.

“Low levels of vitamin D were common in the early 1900’s and in recent years there has been an increase in the deficiency once more. Over time this leads to rickets in children; where the leg bones become bowed as they fail to form correctly and in adults low levels can lead to osteoporosis and brittle bones, bone pain, fatigue, unexplained malaise and immune function.

“Though oily fish, liver, egg yolk, meat, milk, fortified foods contain some vitamin D, it is not where the body gets most of this vitamin. The main source of vitamin D is from the action of sunlight on the skin where the vitamin is made.

“The sun is at the correct wavelength between 11am-3pm from May to September in the UK. A gentle 15mins a day, three times a week on hands and face is sufficient to top up levels. However there is a caution to keep to the minimum before burning for each skin type as this reduces vitamin D production and increases risks of over exposure, sun damage and skin cancers.

“The levels of vitamin D in the body increase over these summer months to their peak at the end of the summer. In the winter months our bodies use the topped up stores of vitamin D to regulate the calcium.

“The problem is that with many working indoors, with little outdoor activity and covering up for sun protection many do not reach adequate peak levels by the end of summer and are running on empty as the winter begins. Year on year levels then drop and deficiency signs develop over time.

“Advice for all our bypass and sleeve patients is to have a yearly blood test and any deficiencies can be corrected with daily supplements and a retest 3 months later to confirm effect to see if the recommended levels have been reached.

“For everyone else this report highlights the need for a year round supplement for anyone with darker skin, those with little sun exposure, including those who cover up, breastfeeding mothers, breastfed babies, children up to the age of 5 and those over 65. While the report suggests that everyone else should be taking a 10 micrograms daily supplement during the winter months.

Streamline Surgical band patients are advised to follow either the year round or winter supplements depending on the highlighted advice.”

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