Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium in to our bodies, helping us to maintain strong teeth and bones, this is especially important during the growth and development stage of children. Vitamin D is also a contributing factor in our immunity and muscle function and impacts on our daily wellbeing.
There are two types of vitamin D - D2 and D3. D3 is the most important variety and is best for human health - it is better at improving our vitamin D status than D2. D2 has a slightly different structure to D3 and is often found in plant form such as mushrooms.
Although vitamin D is made during our exposure to sunlight and yet despite this 1 in 5 of us has a vitamin D deficiency. Most of us will readily admit that we do not spend as much time outside as we would like to but even if you’re leading an outdoors lifestyle, there’s still no guarantee that you are being exposed to enough UV light. In order to product enough vitamin D we need to be exposed to a UV index greater than 3 (your smart phone can be a useful tool to let you know the UV exposure!).
As with any nutrient it’s important that we get the right balance through our diet and preferably this would be from nutrient rich sources, but if not then a supplement can be a cheap and effective alternative. If you’re looking for an extra hit of vitamin D it can be found in:
- Oily fish
- Fortified cereals (usually it will outline this on the packaging!)
Vitamin D supports many functions - immunity, muscle, skeletal and a deficiency can lead to health problems.
As we outlined briefly earlier, vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium which helps to strength our bones. A diet lacking in vitamin D increases the risk factors associated with osteoporosis. Studies have shown that in diets rich with vitamin D, the risk of fractures significantly reduces! Studies also show that increase vitamin D is linked to fewer falls in elderly people due to improved muscle strength and stability.
Vitamin D is very important when it comes to our immunity and now more than ever we’re acutely aware of maintaining our health! Vitamin D helps to protect against infections through its involvement in producing the proteins that provide our antimicrobial defences. Studies show that not only are adults with higher vitamin D intake less likely to develop cold and flu symptoms but they’re also less likely to contract acute infections such as pneumonia.
Like with anything in life, it’s important to maintain a balance and not indulge in over-excess. Taking too much vitamin D can lead to nausea and vomiting as well an upset stomach.
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