Vitamin D deficiency affects about two in three South Africans and may be a major underlying cause of illness and serious infections, according to top SA nutritional consultant, Vanessa Ascencao.

Ascencao was responding to a recent international study which found Cape Town residents, in particular, were at risk of vitamin D deficiency in winter when UVB exposure from sunlight was extremely low, making it harder to fight disease and infection. The study said vitamin D supplementation may reverse deficiency and even slow down HIV infection.

The study by scientists from the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Pennsylvania State in the US examined 100 healthy Khayelitsha and Bellville adults between 18 and 24-years-old. A statement from UCT said: “The results suggest that vitamin D supplementation may prevent winter anaemia and boost white blood cell count, possibly serving as a cost-effective intervention to reduce risk of HIV infection and slow down HIV progression in infected individuals (see here)”.

The study further showed that 63% (see here) of Capetonians are deficient while Ascencao said an independent pilot study showed only two of 17 South Africans tested across the country had adequate vitamin D levels.

“Some scientists consider this an unrecognized global epidemic and the world’s single deadliest vitamin deficiency (see here) as it has been linked to diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and autism. Vitamin D, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, may be the most important factor in fighting infections, including flu and HIV (see here and here),” said Ascencao, adding that SA’s first vitamin D awareness week was being planned by Dis-Chem in 2016.

In addition to direct sunlight on exposed skin for at least 20 minutes a day, Ascencao said foods high in vitamin D include fish oils and fatty fish, mushrooms, liver, and egg yolk. She added that the most effective supplementation was via vitamin D mouth sprays.

“Research on vitamin D supplementation by Cardiff University found that BetterYou DLux oral sprays guaranteed a dramatically better nutritional dosage than traditional tablets, capsules or drops due to quick absorption via the rich system of veins in the inner cheek and under the tongue (see here and here),” she said.

BetterYou DLux Oral Spray is available nationally at leading health stores, pharmacies and Dis-Chem. It is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

DLux-1000-Vitamin-D-oral-spray

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