It's that time of the year when we can all feel the seasons are a-changin'. As we slip into September, we know at a latitude of over 35° North, the amount of solar UV light needed to produce Vitamin D declines dramatically. As a result, between October and April each year, we get a minimal amount of ultraviolet B light from the sun, which is why supplementation to combat Vitamin D deficiency is vitally important.
According to meta-analyses of several studies that assessed Vitamin D levels worldwide, the global average is 50 nmol/L (or 20 ng/mL) which would be considered adequate by some Doctors but deficient in Functional Medicine circles. At Wild Atlantic Health, based on the latest research, we believe the optimal Vitamin D level to aim for is at least 120 nmol/L, double the global average.
According to the Irish Medical Journal, Vitamin D deficiency is common across all age groups.
- 47% of 18-39-year-olds
- 60% of 50-59-year-olds
- 64% of over 80s
- > 80% of nursing home residents
- 94% in the BAME communities
This research is based on the minimum RDA levels focused on bone health which doesn’t consider the broader set of Vitamin D3 functions and benefits in the human body. Realistically, this means that sub-optimal levels of Vitamin D in Ireland are even higher than these conservative numbers suggest.
As a small county, interestingly, research conducted by Trinity found that Mizen Head gets 19% more UVB than Malin Head in the North, and there are also considerable differences between the East and West, especially during Summer, giving greater meaning to the popular phrase “The Sunny South East”
In Ireland, men tend to have lower Vitamin D levels than women by about 6 nmol/L on average. We can generally expect our levels to be at their highest in early September and then plummet during winter to their lowest levels by March – dropping by around 20 nmol/L. Older people, being overweight or having darker skin are all factors which negatively impact Vitamin D uptake.
As summer comes to an end, now is the perfect time to check and top up your Vitamin D levels and then look to re-test again at the end of winter.
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