What a wonderful few summer months it has been, but with the sunshine slowly disappearing and the winter months falling upon us, the question arises where do we get the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, from?
WHAT IS VITAMIN D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, that is key for the maintenance of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. It also helps absorb calcium which plays a vital role in forming and maintaining strong bones. The main source of Vitamin D comes from ultraviolet B radiation from the sunlight, which when exposed on the skin can be synthesised by vitamin D3, the active form of Vitamin D. However, we can also attain Vitamin D from the diet and through supplementation. But why should we consume Vitamin D?
BENEFITS OF VITAMIN D:
Absorption of calcium and phosphorus
Brain development and function
Potential link to a reduction in inflammation
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?
Vitamin D is the most controversial vitamin when comparing recommended nutrient intake (RNI). Previously, there has only been recommendations for babies, pregnant women and the elderly, however most recently the Public Health of England advised a recommendation of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D per day. With this being said, everyone is unique and different, which means that this value can vary slightly per person due to how our bodies work biologically with absorption and need for. Unfortunately, too little Vitamin D in our diets can lead to deficiencies such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, showing how vital it is to get enough Vitamin D year-round.
WHERE CAN I FIND VITAMIN D?
Vitamin D is one of the few vitamins with limited food sources, however do not fret as many of these foods are staples in everyone’s diet, even vegans.
These food sources include:
- Oily fish; salmon, sardines.
- Orange Juice
- Red Meats
- Egg Yolk
Additionally, many foods are fortified with Vitamin D such as breakfast cereals and milk products. With this being said, the level of Vitamin D ranges for each food product meaning that for the majority of us may not meet the recommended daily intake. Supplementation can often be advised during the winter months, especially for people that struggle to consume the above food products or spend limited time outside. Nevertheless, supplementation is unique to everyone, and other components such as dosage and ingredients can vary depending on where you buy them and the price. This in itself can lead to consuming more than we need, and extra ingredients that are not ideal for your body. Therefore, I would advise meeting with your local GP or registered nutritionist to seek further advice on the use of supplementation and whether this is the best route for you.
My suggestion is to always try to make an effort to consume a balanced diet containing a variety of foods full of nutritional value including Vitamin D. Why not try Meat-free Monday which gives you the opportunity to eat omega 3’s and aim towards hitting your Vitamin D intake.