Vitamin D is essential to our ongoing physical health. It may seem like just another one of the alphabet of vitamins out there, but does vitamin D actually affect workplace productivity?
Recent research links vitamin D to a number of health benefits. Similarly, a deficiency of vitamin D is connected to a number of health problems.
So, let’s take a look at how vitamin D can affect workplace productivity.
Why is Vitamin D so Important?
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, as it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are responsible for keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy. As a result, vitamin D helps to prevent bone pain issues, as well as diseases such as rickets.
Additionally, there is ongoing research into the effects of vitamin D on overall health, including our ability to fight off common colds and the flu. Whilst there is still more research to be done, studies so far suggest that individuals who are particularly deficient in vitamin D are more likely to experience coughs, colds, and chest infections.
What does Vitamin D Deficiency Look Like?
Much like high blood pressure, vitamin D deficiency doesn’t have any clear and obvious symptoms. Rather, the issues it causes, such as rickets and osteomalacia (bone pain in adults), will present with symptoms.
We generate vitamin D in our bodies through exposure to sunlight and through diet. During the winter months, however, the sun in the UK isn’t strong enough to allow us to generate adequate vitamin D levels. Similarly, we generally can’t get enough from diet alone.
Simply put, many people won’t know that they’re vitamin D deficient until other problems start to arise.
Who is at Risk of Developing Vitamin D Deficiency?
Those at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency can include:
- People who are not often outdoors – this can include people who work indoors most of the time. It’s worth noting here that our bodies need direct, outdoor contact with sunlight to generate vitamin D. Most windows (in buildings and cars) filter out the wavelengths that stimulate our vitamin D response.
- Those who are housebound or live in an institution, such as a care home.
- Those who usually wear clothes that cover their skin.
People with dark skin – for example, with an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background – also may not generate enough vitamin D from sunlight.
In terms of the workplace, this could indicate that many office or desk-based workers don’t get enough sunlight (assuming they aren’t often outdoors at home, too). This could also be the case for workers that are outside, but often wear a lot of PPE – for safety reasons, for example.
Most of these people won’t know they have low vitamin D levels unless they get tested.
How does Vitamin D Affect Workplace Productivity?
Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children, as well as bone pain from a condition called osteomalacia in adults. According to recent research, 1 in 6 UK adults have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Moreover, 49% of adults are not aware of government recommendations to take a supplement to top levels up throughout the year.
This means that many of us could be at risk of deficiency, especially during the autumn and winter months, when the sun isn’t strong enough for us to produce vitamin D through sunlight exposure.
As such, workers could be at risk of musculoskeletal issues, such as osteomalacia, which could affect performance and productivity in more physically demanding roles.
Similarly, all workers, regardless of role, could be more prone to infections, coughs and colds. This may not only make staff less productive but could also encourage the spread of illness around the workplace, assuming staff don’t stay at home when ill. This means even more productivity loss, and so on and so forth…
How can you Prevent Vitamin D Affecting Workplace Productivity?
In our work with businesses across the UK, we have identified the two most effective ways for workplaces to prevent vitamin D deficiency affecting workplace productivity.
Vitamin D Testing
The only way to know if you’re vitamin D deficient is to get tested. Here at New Leaf Health, we run simple testing clinics for our clients in workplaces around the UK, allowing staff to find out their vitamin D levels quickly, as well as get information on the next steps to help improve or maintain their levels. To find out more about our Vitamin D Testing Services, click here.
Vitamin D Supplements
Government advice is that everyone should consider taking a supplement throughout the autumn and winter months in the UK, even those who get regular exposure to sunlight. During this period, the sunlight in the UK simply isn’t strong enough to help us generate vitamin D naturally.
It’s also recommended that people at high risk of not getting enough vitamin D should take a daily supplement throughout the year. This could include people that spend a lot of time indoors (including office workers, for example), and those who don’t regularly expose their skin to the sun, such as workers who wear a lot of PPE outside.
Vitamin D isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind as a fundamental part of our everyday health, but it’s absolutely vital to several key aspects of our overall wellbeing, and most of us simply don’t realise it.
If your business could benefit from being more aware of vitamin D and its benefits, head over to our Vitamin D Testing page to learn more.