At long last the vitamin D recommendations were amended last year from 0ųg to 10ųg.d. Consequently more and more people have started to realise the importance of vitamin D. Why all of a sudden are we suggesting you should expose yourself to the sun (when we all know how equally damaging it can be) and why is everyone seeming to be knocking back supplements like there’s no tomorrow?
In this article I’ve set out to answer these questions and provide my top tips of how we can obtain enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D is most popular for its role in bone health. It is imperative for bone mineralisation and bone formation as well as calcium absorption (which is equally as popular for its importance in bone health). Some research has suggested that low levels of vitamin D are associated with depressive symptoms and mental health disorders. However this research is fairly new and inconclusive. Yet it is an interesting concept and one in which we should be keeping an eye on.
Deficiency of this vital nutrient can lead to serious bone disorders; rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults and potentially mental health issues.
Evidently vitamin D plays a key role in our health. It is an essential fat soluble vitamin which is mainly derived from the sun. For many of us who live in cloudy England where we get one or two days a year to worship the sun obtaining enough vitamin D naturally can be difficult. So if not the sun where can we get it from? Well, this is the problem as there are really very few dietary sources of vitamin D. However, these sources do include salmon, eggs and shitake mushrooms. For those following a vegetarian/ vegan diet this can be even more tricky.
Its not all bad news though, as vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin it can be stored and is therefore not an essential everyday requirement (although this is recommended).
So whilst I’ve mentioned that vitamin D can be derived from the sun we require at least 20 minutes exposure daily. In the UK it can only be synthesised during the months of April to September; this is based on the sun’s positioning. During these months I recommend you try and access the sun daily without sunscreen on as this prevents the production of vitamin D. Individuals with darker skin generate less vitamin D from the sun during the summer months and so they may wish to consider taking a supplement (although it can be far less regularly than what is taken during the winter).
Throughout the rest of the year I recommend taking a supplement of 25ųg.d (that should be one capsule) and increase your salmon, eggs and shitake mushroom intakes.
Whilst nutrients are always best obtained through diet where possible, it simply isn’t always that easy so follow my tips to increase your vitamin D intakes and reduce the risk of deficiency.
Bikle, D. D. (2016). Vitamin D and bone. In Handbook of nutrition and diet in therapy of bone diseases (pp. 2063-2068). Wageningen Academic Publishers.
Milaneschi, Y., Hoogendijk, W., Lips, P., Heijboer, A. C., Schoevers, R., Van Hemert, A. M., … & Penninx, B. W. J. H. (2014). The association between low vitamin D and depressive disorders. Molecular psychiatry, 19(4), 444.
Lanham-New, S. A. (2008). Importance of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K for osteoporosis prevention and treatment. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67(2), 163-176.
AUTHOR: JENNA HOPE
Instagram: @jennahopenutrition Twitter: @jhopenutrition Facebook: /jennahopenutrition