India Knight On Why Everyone Needs A Vitamin D Supplement
With our exposure to natural light restricted by lockdown, it’s time to embrace sunshine in a bottle
Will I ever go back to writing about normal products, or are we about two weeks away from my advising you to rub your face all over with half a potato, on the basis that the starch therein might keep your face a tiny bit taut as the Botox wears off? (I have made this up. Please don’t rub your face with halved potatoes.)
At the moment, when I’m thinking of things to write about for this page, I’m constantly reminded of the homemade beauty products that were such a staple of teenage magazines in my youth — egg yolks on your hair and mashed avocado face masks. You could make a perfectly nice lunch out of eggs and avocados, so that’s out. Then there were the body scrubs made out of sugar, but again, I’d rather make a cake. I do think this is a good time for time-consuming and grossly unphotogenic beauty projects, like depilation or using the kind of hardcore actives that make you look worse before you look better. I’ll do those soon.
But this week is vitamin D, and actually it is really important. We get most of our vitamin D from direct exposure of our skin to sunlight. You can see where I’m going with this: since we are no longer free to roam aimlessly or to sunbathe in parks, we are all at risk of sunshine deficit, unless perhaps we are nudists with large gardens. (I do wonder quite a lot about whether the lockdown is making more nudists. I bet it is.) If you live in a flat or in a room without regular and lengthy access to a private outdoor space, you’re screwed.
Hence: vitamin D supplements. I take these all year round anyway, despite being outside a lot, because if you have brown or black skin your skin contains more melanin, which makes it less able to absorb sunlight and therefore vitamin D. This is doubly problematic if you have brown skin and are the opposite of a nudist — if you cover yourself up a lot for reasons of religion or modesty. Take supplements, for heaven’s sake. Ditto if you, or anyone you know, is in a care home with limited access to the outside world.
At this time, though, this admonition applies to everyone, unless you exist on a diet of red meat, egg yolks, oily fish and liver (mmm, kissy kissy). You should look on the NHS website regarding all details and dosage, and you should know that vitamin D deficiency is a serious thing. At one extreme, as a child it puts you at risk of rickets and bone deformities, and at the other of developing soft or brittle bones as an adult. Some sources, including WebMD, say a deficiency also heightens the risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older people and even cancer. More generally, it also puts you at risk of fatigue, muscle weakness and depression, which frankly is all any of us needs more of right now.
So take a supplement, and I repeat, inform yourself about correct dosage before you start slugging it down. My own preference is for Solgar Vitamin D3 capsules (£15.99;), but some swear by taking it in liquid form, such as via a squirt of BetterYou DLux3000 Vitamin D Oral Spray (£7.95;).