Everyone is talking about Vitamin D and today we are seeing many more cases of vitamin D deficiency. This is due to a number of factors. Lifestyle changes – children playing on electronic equipment indoors instead of running around outside; protective clothing; the over use of sunscreen – the scaremongering of nonmelanoma skin cancer means people cover themselves and their children in sunscreen which stops any UVB (and UVA) rays getting through.
A few simple facts – Between the months of October and March UVB rays in the sun are not strong enough, therefore production of Vitamin D in the body is not stimulated. So you can spend all day out in the winter sun, and your skin will not be making Vitamin D. Storage takes place in the fat cells and is released slowly over the winter months allowing you to be sufficient until Spring, when you body starts to synthesise it again through the sun. However many people will not have enough stored to take them through those 5 to 6 months and may become deficient.
Diseases – As well as promoting calcium absorption in the gut, Vitamin D plays an important role in many other body systems. It is a fat soluble vitamin and therefore requires fat in order for it to be absorbed.
Apart from the obvious bone health, vitamin D may prevent diseases, including depression (vitamin D stimulates the production of serotonin), fatigue, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, weight loss (fat cells have vitamin d receptors – fat cells can burn more calories if they have more vitamin D), fertility, memory, respiratory function, Crohn’s, psoriasis and other inflammatory diseases, Cancer.
Often people are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue and it may be a simple case of Vitamin D deficiency.
It is nearly impossible to meet the vitamin D requirements through diet alone. Yes, there is vitamin D in oily fish, such as salmon, and fortified milk and cereal, egg yolks and mushrooms, but you wouldn’t be able to eat enough to get the required amount of vitamin D. Worth mentioning here is that Vitamin D made in the skin lasts twice as long as vitamin D ingested from food.
As you can see from this brief ‘feed’ Vitamin D is a big topic for discussion – personally I think it is savvy to get your Vitamin D tested once a year. It is a simple finger prick test, which can be sent off with results a week later. If you do then need to take a supplemental form of Vitamin D you can discuss this with your healthcare practitioner, however it is worth noting that if you are vegan you will need to take D2 as D3 contains lanolin (wax from sheep).