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ASK THE DOC: How can I get enough Vitamin D as nights draw in?

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Vitamin supplements. Picture: MarkBuckawicki, via Wikimedia Commons.
Vitamin supplements. Picture: MarkBuckawicki, via Wikimedia Commons.

Q. WITH the nights getting darker I’m worried about vitamin D levels. How do I make sure I’m getting enough?

A. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body.

These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.

From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.

The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors.

But between October and early March we do not make enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods. These include oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals.

Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.

Since it’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.

Q. I was bitten by an insect over summer and the mark still hasn’t disappeared. Is this normal?

A. When an insect bites, it releases saliva that can cause the skin around the bite to become red, swollen and itchy. The venom from a sting often also causes a swollen, itchy, red mark, to form on the skin. This can be painful, but it’s harmless in most cases. The affected area will usually remain painful and itchy for a few days.

The severity of bites and stings varies depending on the type of insect involved and the sensitivity of the person. Unfortunately as we get older, you might find that insect bites take longer to fade. This is not a cause for concern, provided that other symptoms have faded. If you are still concerned, your pharmacist may help.

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