Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, has been in the news recently and we are having a look at why. Well, recent research has claimed that if you want to keep colds, flu and even pneumonia away, it’s Vitamin D, rather than an apple a day you need.
Vitamin D is created naturally by the body when we come into contact with the sun. However, with the shocking weather we get in the UK, it isn’t surprising that many us of don’t create enough Vitamin D naturally, but we do need it if we are going to be happy and healthy.
Vitamin D helps us absorb the calcium and phosphate we digest which is turn keeps our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. A Vitamin D deficiency can lead to bones soften and weaken and deformities can then occur. In children a lack of Vitamin D can lead to rickets and in adults, it can be osteomalacia, which causes bone pain and tenderness. It is also believed that the same vitamin keeps immune systems working at full pelt so we don’t pick up every single cough, cold and virus we come into contact with. It doesn’t end there, as others also think there is a link between low levels of Vitamin C and depression as well as obesity.
We all need Vitamin D, but those who are most likely to suffer if they don’t have the right amount, are:
Infants under 5
Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding
Anyone who has little exposure to the sun, or none at all, for example people who are housebound or in hospital
The over 65s
People with darker skin as they need to spend longer in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as someone with lighter skin
It is one thing saying that more Vitamin D is needed, but if we can’t get it from the sun, where do we find it?
Well, just because it isn’t sunny, doesn’t mean you should get outside at every opportunity and as fresh air and exercise is vital for good health and mood.
Oily fish like mackerel, salmon and sardines are a great starting point as are eggs. These foods are also packed with omega 3 and protein so it is a good idea to add them to your diet anyway. Vitamin D can also be found in meat, mushrooms, fortified cereal, plant milks and soy yogurts.
It might also be a good idea to take a Vitamin D supplement to be sure you are in tip-top condition. Whilst some people take them just in the winter months, there is no harm in taking them all year round to ensure your levels are, well, level.
The recommended daily amount of Vitamin D is around 10 micrograms a day for an adult. Babies under 12 months should have no more than 25mcg a day and children between one to 10 years should not have more than 50mcg a day. If no doubt, talk to your GP about doses in more detail to get it right and don’t take more than recommended.
As a rule of thumb eat a diet that is rich in oily fish, go outside as often as much as you can, take a supplement and if you are worried you are failing short, speak to your GP who can take some tests and put you on the right path to wellness.