Why do we need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is used to build strong bones and teeth, and for normal functioning of nerves and muscles. It prevents osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children. Studies also link it to a healthy immune system and possible protection from prostate, colon or breast cancer.
Symptoms of deficiency include: muscle and joint aches and pains, muscle cramps and twitching, backache, nervousness and insomnia.
You might need a vitamin D supplement if you:
Use sunscreen, as it prevents the body getting Vitamin D from sunlight
Spend most of your time indoors, or have most of your body covered when outside
Have darker skin pigmenation
Are a strict Vegetarian, or don’t eat oily fish or dairy produce
Are over 50, as the manufacture of Vitamin D decreases with age
Live in an area with high pollution
Toxicity: Always consult your doctor before taking a supplement. Doses over 25-50mcg taken long term leads to high blood levels of calcium, which may cause loss of appetite, nausea, bowel irregularity, and increased urination.
The Sunshine Vitamin
The UK Government now recommends a 10mcg supplement from October to March; at the very least, because sunlight is not strong enough during the Winter months to obtain adequate amounts. Vitamin D is made on the skin’s surface when it is exposed to UV-B in sunlight, where it diffuses into the blood. In the Summer, spending 10-15 minutes in the sun in normal clothes – so your face and arms or legs are exposed – is enough if you get outside regularly.
Food Sources of Vitamin D
Oily fish: Mackerel, Herring or Kippers (20ug per 100g), Salmon (12ug) sardines (7.5ug) or tuna (5.0ug)
Eggs (Medium 1.0ug)
Fortified breakfast cereals (0.5-1.0ug)
Dairy produce, high fat contains less vitamin D than low fat, e.g Butter (0.8ug) to Feta cheese (0.3ug)
Vitamin D Facts
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, and is technically a hormone as our bodies can manufacture it.
Studies have shown that up to 60% of people may be deficient and nutritionists have been calling for updated guidelines for over 10 years.
Gut conditions like coeliac disease that feature malabsoption can cause deficiency, as can gut bypass surgery, liver or renal disease.
Alcohol activates certain enzymes in the body that increase the loss of Vitamin D: another reason to watch your alcohol intake!
Choose a good quality supplement as they provide Vitamin D in an easily absorbed form, or use Chlorella for a natural source. Chlorella is a tiny freshwater plant, and considered to be a superfood similar to Spirulina. See our Article on Spirulina here. Find out more and order Chlorella from companies like Pukka or Xynergy.
Elaine Bartlett, Dip ITEC, Nut.Cert
Barasi: Human Nutrition, A Health Perspective. Hodder Arnold
Lamberts: Technical Catalogue and Practitioner’s Guide to Supplements