Residents urged to boost Vitamin D intake and keep well in Winter
Residents in St Helens are being encouraged to take extra steps to keep well and reduce the chances of falling ill during the Winter months.
Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones and muscles and it may help support our immune system; everyone should consider taking a supplement of the vitamin during the winter months if they can.
When outdoors during the spring and summer, most people make enough vitamin D from sunlight on the skin. But in the UK between October and early March, we can't make vitamin D from sunlight because the sun is too low in the sky. Because it's difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone, it's advised to take a vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter.
There are a range of products and doses available at supermarkets, pharmacies and other retailers; the recommended dose of vitamin D is 10 micrograms (400 International Units (IU)) per day. 10 micrograms a day is enough for most people. However, there are a few people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much, if in doubt, speak to your pharmacist.
Foods that contain vitamin D include oily fish (salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel), red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods such as some fat spreads and cereals.
Further details on how to boost your Vitamin D intake are available on the NHS website: Vitamin D - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme can get free supplements containing the recommended amounts of vitamin D. Further details on this are available on the NHS website: Healthy Start Scheme.
Residents can also take these small but important steps to stay healthy during the winter period:
1. Keep up to date with vaccinations; make sure you have received a flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine if you are eligible, and make sure you have had all your COVID-19 vaccinations. Parents are particularly encouraged to get their children vaccinated against flu when they can as cases have risen sharply across the country in the last week.
2. When you have symptoms of an infection, such as a temperature, new cough, feeling unwell, diarrhoea or vomiting, try and avoid contact or keep your distance from others
3. Wash your hands - it really does help to stop the spread of infection; wash or sanitise your hands regularly especially after going to the toilet, before eating food, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
4. Eat at least one hot healthy meal a day and keep hydrated, 6 to 8 cups or glasses of fluid a day
5. If you are vulnerable to serious illness, keep your house warm (at least 18°C)
6. Look out for vulnerable neighbours, relatives and friends
Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage said: "During the summer months it is easier to absorb Vitamin D naturally with more sunlight but with winter now upon us it's important that we take we do what we can to boost our levels as it can keep us healthier and help prevent illness."
Ruth du Plessis, Director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, said:
"Taking Vitamin D in winter is really important as it helps keep us strong as it is good for our teeth, bones and muscles. Too little vitamin D can lead to bone problems such as rickets in children, and bone pain and muscle weakness in adults, which may also increase the risk of falls in older people.
"Doing things such as boosting your Vitamin D intake, taking the opportunity to get your Covid-19 vaccinations, boosters or flu jab can go a long way to help strengthening your body's ability to fight infection just when it needs to the most. Having good hygiene and being careful around vulnerable friends and relatives is also vital. They are small steps but they could make a big difference."
Further details on booking a Covid Vaccination or booster are on the NHS website: Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
For more information about the children's nasal spray flu vaccine and where to get it, please visit the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/child-flu-vaccine/