Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body – nutrients which are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy, so it’s important to keep your levels topped up. Because the sun is the main source of vitamin D, during the winter months, certain people can be at risk of a vitamin D deficiency. These include people who aren’t outdoors often or wear clothes that cover up most of their skin. A vitamin D deficiency can trigger symptoms such as fatigue, bone and back pain, depression and hair loss, so some people may consider taking vitamin D supplements.
But as summer approaches, when should you stop taking vitamin D supplements? Dr Andrew Thornber, chief medical officer at Now Patient, offered his advice to Express.co.uk.
He said: “During the winter months you should consider taking a supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D if you think you’re not getting enough from food.
“But the body usually gets enough vitamin D from natural sunlight (from spring onwards) and eating foods such as egg yolks, liver, oily fish and red meat.”
Taking vitamin D over a prolonged period of time could lead to more serious problems, Dr Thornber noted.
“If you take vitamin D over a prolonged period it can cause calcium to build up and lead to damage on the kidney, bones and heart,” he warned.
“In some cases it can affect toilet habits too.
“Other symptoms can include fatigue, weight loss, excessive thirst and dehydration.”
The NHS also warns against taking more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful.
It explains: “This applies to adult, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17 years.
“Children aged one to 10 years shouldn’t have more than 50 micrograms a day.
“Infants under 12 months shouldn’t have more than 25 micrograms a day.”
Dr Thornber added: “It is always worth consulting your GP if taking or thinking of stopping the supplements to make sure it is suitable to do so.”
If you are out in the sun keeping your vitamin D levels topped up you should always remember to cover up or protect your skin.
If skin is exposed to sun for long periods of time it can increase the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.
Skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet light damaging the DNA in skin cells.
What’s commonly not known is there are two types of skin cancer – melanoma skin cancer and non-melanoma skin cancer.