Vitamin D - are you getting enough? Vitamin D is also known as the "Sunshine Mineral". The sun is the greatest natural source of this vitamin. Vitamin D is vital for bone health and teeth health. During the Industrial Revolution, Vitamin D deficiency was common amongst children and was almost eradicated after World War 2, thanks to the advances in medical care. It has been on the increase in recent years.
Unlike most other vitamins, Our body is able to make its own vitamin D, which is unlike any other vitamin. This happens when the skin is exposed to sunlight. The body then converts this vitamin into an activated form that can be used.
Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and regulates the amount of phosphate in the body. These actions are essential for strong and healthy bones, reducing risk of bone deformations or fractures.
Vitamin D is really a hormone rather than a vitamin. We need it to absorb calcium from the gut into the bloodstream. The liver and kidneys convert vitamin D (produced in the skin and taken up in the diet), into the active hormone, which is called calcitriol. Active vitamin D helps to increase the amount of calcium the gut can absorb from food into the bloodstream and also prevents calcium loss from the kidneys. Vitamin D modifies the activity of bone cells and is important for the formation of new bone in children and adults.
Vitamin D also has other important functions in the body. These may include brain development, muscle function (including the heart), and immune function.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble and functions like a steroid hormone in the body. There are two forms of vitamin D in the diet:
• Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol): found in some mushrooms.
• Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol): found in oily fish, fish liver oil and egg yolks.
Vitamin D is also available through food although it would be difficult to get all the vitamin D you need through diet alone, and it is in a more difficult form for the body to use. Getting out into the sunshine is something we all need to do!
|Food source||Vitamin D content (micrograms, mcg)|
|Almond milk, 225ml||2.5|
|Shiitake mushrooms, 85g||1|
Vitamin D3 is the more powerful of the two types and raises blood levels of vitamin D almost twice as much as D2. Large amounts of vitamin D can also be made in your skin when it is exposed to UV-rays from sunlight. Any excess vitamin D is stored in your body fat for later use. Every cell in your body has a receptor for vitamin D.
Determining how much vitamin D you need depends on many factors: age, race, latitude, season, sun exposure, clothing and more. However, if you live far north or south of the equator then your vitamin D levels may fluctuate depending on the season. The levels may decrease during the winter months, due to a lack of sufficient sunlight. You need to rely on your diet (or supplements) for vitamin D, as well as on vitamin D that is stored in body fat during the summer.
Vitamin D is highly important. Correcting a deficiency is simple, cheap and can have immense health benefits.
If you do not have access to the sun all year round it is commonly thought that vitamin D3 supplements of 1000–4000 IU (25–100 micrograms) should be enough for most people.
Vitamin D - Make sure you are getting enough.
Written by: Mimi