Vitamin D is considered to be the sunshine vitamin and it seems we are not getting enough.
The advice from a government-commissioned report raises concerns that we can not get enough through diet alone, particularly when sunlight is scarce and so we should supplement.
There are some naturally rich food sources, such as oily fish and eggs, but you would need to consume a portion of salmon or 6 eggs every day to get your daily dose of vitamin D. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to get enough vitamin D from food alone and maintain a balanced diet.
For most people, their vitamin D is made by the action of sunlight on their skin. The sun is only strong enough in the UK for our bodies to produce vitamin D from about late March/early April to the end of September between 11 am and 3 pm and of course, a lot of us will use a high factor sunscreen which will cut down absorption. There’s a simple way to tell if the sun is strong enough for you to produce vitamin D. Your shadow will be equal to (or smaller than) your height.
The official estimates are that 1:5 adults and 1:6 children have low levels.
An extensive review of the evidence carried out by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), has suggested that everyone over the age of one needs to consume vitamin D each day in order to protect bone and muscle health.
Public health officials say, in winter months, people should supplement if they are not getting enough from their diet. Black and Asian people should also consider the supplements all year round.
Why is vitamin D important?
Its main function is to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These are vital for the growth and maintenance of healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
In extreme cases, low levels can lead to rickets in children causing weak and misshapen bones.
In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia – causing severe bone pain and muscle aches.
As in all things though there is a balance – too much vitamin D can lead to high levels of calcium in the blood which can cause heart and kidney problems.
There is also evidence that Vitamin D is very important to the proper functioning of the immune system. There are Vitamin D receptors in cells throughout the body that, when activated, are important to the regulation of cell growth and division.
Some new research suggests that vitamin D may offer protection against some types of cancer, including breast and prostate cancers and, in particular, colorectal cancer. It is not known exactly how vitamin D fights cancer but it “helps reduce cell proliferation and differentiation, and it may reduce inflammation,” says Edward Giovannucci, M.D., professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
Some research is also revealing that a sufficient level of vitamin D may confer some protection against developing multiple sclerosis (MS).
This vitamin may also play a protective role in the development of Type 1 diabetes, as this is considered an autoimmune disease since it involves immune-cell attack on the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas. Experts are not sure about how vitamin D protects against autoimmune diseases but believe that it may serve as a brake on the overactive immune cells but as yet there is no firm evidence of this.
Anyone with a chronic condition or taking medication should seek advice from their doctor before starting supplementation.
If you do decide to start supplementing please take a decent quality product. As I’ve said before a lot of supplements bought from supermarkets or high street stores are mainly made up of chalk and the vitamins will not have the supplement in a bioavailable form. That is that the body will recognise it as a food and be able to use it. I use products from Natures Sunshine as their quality known to be some of the finest around. Nature’s Sunshine has earned an enviable reputation worldwide because it simply won’t compromise on quality. They carry out more than 600 quality tests to guarantee purity, potency and safety, Nature’s Sunshine produce only the finest quality nutritional supplements money can buy.
If you do decide you want to take some Vitamin D as a supplement and want a decent quality product talk to me as I can get it cheaper than you can get it on Amazon.