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July 2016

21Jul 2016

PHE publishes new advice on vitamin D

PHE is advising that 10 micrograms of vitamin D are needed daily to help keep healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

To protect bone and muscle health, everyone needs vitamin D equivalent to an average daily intake of 10 micrograms, Public Health England (PHE) advised the government today (Thursday 21 July 2016).

This advice is based on the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) following its review of the evidence on vitamin D and health.

Vitamin D is made in the skin by the action of sunlight and this is the main source of vitamin D for most people. SACN could not say how much vitamin D is made in the skin through exposure to sunlight, so it is therefore recommending a daily dietary intake of 10 micrograms.

PHE advises that in spring and summer, the majority of the population get enough vitamin D through sunlight on the skin and a healthy, balanced diet. During autumn and winter, everyone will need to rely on dietary sources of vitamin D. Since it is difficult for people to meet the 10 microgram recommendation from consuming foods naturally containing or fortified with vitamin D, people should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D in autumn and winter.

People whose skin has little or no exposure to the sun, like those in institutions such as care homes, or who always cover their skin when outside, risk vitamin D deficiency and need to take a supplement throughout the year. Ethnic minority groups with dark skin, from African, Afro-Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds, may not get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the summer and therefore should consider taking a supplement all year round.

Children aged 1 to 4 years should have a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement. PHE recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed until around 6 months of age. As a precaution, all babies under 1 year should have a daily 8.5 to 10 microgram vitamin D supplement to ensure they get enough. Children who have more than 500ml of infant formula a day do not need any additional vitamin D as formula is already fortified.

Dr Louis Levy, Head of Nutrition Science at PHE, said:

A healthy, balanced diet and short bursts of sunshine will mean most people get all the vitamin D they need in spring and summer. However, everyone will need to consider taking a supplement in the autumn and winter if you don’t eat enough foods that naturally contain vitamin D or are fortified with it. And those who don’t get out in the sun or always cover their skin when they do, should take a vitamin D supplement throughout the year.

Vitamin D supplements are available free-of-charge for low-income families on the Healthy Start scheme.

Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, both needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. It is found naturally in a small number of foods including oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks and in fortified food like breakfast cereals and fat spreads.

Background

  1. Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter: @PHE_uk and Facebook: www.facebook.com/PublicHealthEngland.
  2. The latest data from the PHE National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2008 to 2012) shows that 23% of adults aged 19 to 64 years, 21% of adults aged 65 years and above and 22% of children aged 11 to 18 years have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. This is not the same as having a deficiency, where you would be unwell, but rather means that you are at greater risk of developing a deficiency. If a person is deficient of vitamin D they will be clinically unwell and will need to be treated by a doctor.
  3. PHE recommends against people using sunbeds because extreme short-term use could cause severe burning and long-term damage to the skin, with a possible increased risk of developing skin cancer.
  4. Updated PHE advice is detailed on NHS choices.
  5. SACN is a committee of independent experts that advises government on matters relating to diet, nutrition and health. Details of the committee, including working procedures and membership, are found at www.sacn.gov.uk.
  6. SACN reviewed the evidence on vitamin D and health outcomes. In addition to musculoskeletal health, SACN reviewed the relationship between vitamin D and non-musculoskeletal health outcomes including cancer, Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and heart disease but found insufficient evidence to draw any firm conclusions.
20Jul 2016

Keep cool and carry on

sunny_beach

Heatwave temperatures have arrived across the eastern part of the country, prompting PHE to urge people to take extra care.

The Met Office yesterday (Tuesday 19 July 2016) declared a Level 3 heatwave alert, which means the hot weather has arrived in Yorkshire and Humber, the East Midlands, the East of England, London and the South East and is due to last until Thursday. All other parts of England will see high temperatures, but remain on Level 2 heatwave alert.

As a result of this forecast PHE is urging people to take care and have fun in the sun, while making sure that support is given to those who may be at risk from the ill effects of heat.

Dr Angie Bone, Head of Extreme Events at PHE said:

Now the heatwave has arrived, people will likely be out and about more enjoying the summer sun.

But it’s important to remember that there are some people whose health suffers in hot weather. Older people, those with underlying health conditions and young children may all feel the ill-effects of heat over the coming days.

We’re urging everyone to keep an eye on those you know who may be at-risk this summer. If you’re able, ask if your friends, family or neighbours need any help. There are lots of useful tips and guidance on NHS Choices website and more detail available in the Heatwave Plan for England.

The top ways for staying safe when the heat arrives are to:

  • look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions
  • close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
  • drink plenty of water, sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks can make you more dehydrated
  • open windows when it feels cooler outside and it’s safe to do so
  • never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
  • try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
  • if you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat
  • avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day
  • wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes

Neil Armstrong, duty Chief Operational Meteorologist said:

Today will be a hot, largely sunny day with temperatures into the 30s Celsius across many parts of England. Across central and southern parts it will become very hot with temperatures approaching 35 Celsius. Tonight, it will feel very warm and muggy as temperatures remain high.

During the early hours of Wednesday clusters of thunderstorms are likely to move across parts of northern England and continue during the day for which there is a National Severe Weather Warning. Meanwhile, the rest of England will be mostly dry with sunny spells and it will still feel hot in the east and southeast of England with temperatures approaching 30 Celsius.

Dr Bone added:

The hot weather will put an extra strain on bodies and people may feel the ill-effects.

Each year we hear stories of people who have fallen seriously ill because, even though it’s hotter, they may wear clothes which are too warm for hot weather, they may not drink enough or try to do too much.

We’re urging everyone to keep an eye on weather forecasts, follow our basic advice and keep an eye out for each other this summer. That way we can all help each other stay well this summer.

Background

Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow them on Twitter: @PHE_uk and Facebook: www.facebook.com/PublicHealthEngland.

Public Health England Press Office, Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards
Chilton, OX11 0RQ
Email: Telephone: 01235 825406/405
Out of hours telephone: 020 8200 4400

19Jul 2016

Dehydration and sunburn the big dangers as temperatures forecast to top 30 degrees

News from Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group

sunnyskymeadowim

People across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin are being urged to look after each other in the hot weather, with temperatures forecast to possibly top 30 degrees centigrade this week.

The main health risks include dehydration and sunburn. Older people and infants are particularly vulnerable to becoming dehydrated, while children are particularly at risk of sunburn.

Each year people are admitted to hospitals across the region with symptoms of sickness and diarrhoea, severe headaches, and confusion, often due to not drinking enough fluid during warmer weather.

Dr Julian Povey, Chair of Shropshire CCG said: “While the young and the elderly are particularly vulnerable, everyone should take care and stay hydrated and avoid sunburn.

“People should be aware of the symptoms of dehydration and particularly take care of older people, especially if they are less mobile and struggle to get regular drinks for themselves.”

Signs of dehydration include:

  • feeling thirsty and lightheaded
  • a dry mouth
  • tiredness
  • passing urine less often than usual

It’s best to avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of non-fizzy fluids such as water, diluted squash or fruit juice.

Contact NHS 111 for advice straight away if you or anyone you care for has any of the following symptoms:

  • extreme thirst
  • feeling unusually tired (lethargic) or confused
  • not passing urine for eight hours
  • rapid heartbeat
  • dizziness when you stand up that doesn’t go away after a few seconds

They will then advise the best next action or may ask you to be seen by your GP. If at the evening they may ask for a review by the Out of Hours GP service.

Dr Jo Leahy, Chair of Telford & Wrekin CCG added that to people going out in the sun should ensure that large areas of skin are covered to reduce sun burn or use a high factor sun protection lotion to reduce burning.

She said: “The sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm, so it’s important to try and keep children in the shade during this time. Even if it’s cloudy or overcast they can still burn.

“Apply a sunscreen every couple of hours to help protect their skin, especially if they are in and out of water. Even waterproof sunscreen can wash off and the cooling effect of the water can mask the feeling of getting burned.

“Be especially careful to protect your child’s shoulders and the back of their necks while they are playing. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen to delicate areas, such as shoulders, nose, ears, cheeks and the tops of feet. These are the most common areas to get burned.”

A sun screen with a protection factor [SPF] of 50 gives the best protection, along with protective clothing, such as a floppy hat with a wide brim to help shade their face and neck, and an oversized t-shirt with sleeves to protect their back and shoulders.

To treat minor sunburn it’s best to sponge sore skin with cool water then apply soothing aftersun or calamine lotion. Your local pharmacy can advise on over-the-counter treatment to help ease symptoms and reduce inflammation