A very important fat soluble vitamin. Fat soluble meaning they require fat to be digested by the body and to be applied. Also these vitamin cannot be dissolved in water, so the body is able to store them. We need a source to provide it for us which will allow our body to create it. Also, oddly, vitamin D is a hormone, not actually a vitamin.
Vitamin D has some vital uses for us –
1. Calcium absorption. We could eat all the dairy products or green leafy vegetables, but without vitamin D we will not be able to absorb and utilize it.
2. So in turn we require vitamin D for bone health, so prevention of Rickets or soft bones
3. Vitamin D is vital for muscle strength.
4. Falls prevention.
5. Vitamin D is also great for lifting our mood.
This list may not be extensive but it is pretty important.
Foods that contain vitamin D –
· Sunshine. Ok, not a food but you can’t beat a walk in the beautiful sunshine.
· Oily fish such as salmon, sardine, kippers, herring, mackerels. Just be aware not to eat these every single day.
· Fortified foods can be a great way to meet your daily target level. This can be cereals, milks (infant or powders), yogurts or dairy alternatives.
· Egg yolks and milk products may contain traces too.
Should we supplement?
Most people within colder countries would benefit from taking vitamin D supplements during winter months (such as now). Our body can only store so much during the sunnier warmer months and even then, it may not be hot be sunny regularly enough.
Cod-liver oil can also be a supplement for vitamin D so make sure you do not take any other supplement containing vitamin D.
Make sure you take a supplement with no more than 10micrograms a tablet as too much could be harmful long term. Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding please check with your doctor.
Who may need more?
· Working in an office or other environment that reduces your time outside (shop workers, factory workers, etc.) can be detrimental to vitamin D levels
· Night workers. Using the day time to sleep can prevent getting any time in the sun during the brightest hours in the day.
· People who tend to cover up when going outside.
· Darker skin tones tend to have a naturally higher skin SPF.
· People living in countries in more northerly climates.
· Anyone who has less of a tendency to go outside.
· The population above 65 years of age.
Due to our use of sun creams majority of the time it is unlikely we produce adequate vitamin D levels during colder months, so a supplement may support you during these darker months.
Symptoms of low levels of vitamin D –
· Children who have reduced sun exposure may get deformities or weakening in their bones, known as rickets.
· Muscle weakness.
· Adults who have continual lower vitamin D levels can have softer bones and reduced muscle strength.