By Sarah Wilkinson LLB, BSc (Psychology), Diet and Nutritional Dip.
Following the change of seasons I thought it topical to blog about some goodies we get with this. So with winter, to spring, spring to summer, with a little more sunshine, it’s time for some vitamin D!
Most people know they need a range of vitamins from their diet, but may not be so sure what a vitamin is, which ones are essential, and how to best get them. Vitamins are a group of substances essential for cell growth, function, and development, which cannot be made by the body.
Vitamin D is not a true vitamin as it can be produced, ingested and stored by our bodies when exposed to the sun. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, and therefore to facilitate absorption it needs fatty acids.
Vitamin D is divided into two types, so look closely at your supplements to see whether it is vitamin D2, or vitamin D3. Have some awareness of the form of vitamin D you are purchasing!
- Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol, calcitriol, rocaltrol) produced in plants when exposed to sunlight, not naturally produced in the human body, and the synthetic form is found in many multivitamins.
- Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) produced in the human body when exposed to sunlight, and the most effective at raising blood calcium levels.
- The average person needs around 30ng/ml to carry out blood, calcium and bone absorption functions. However, 40 – 50ng/ml seems to be the amount indicated for ‘adequate bone and overall health in HEALTHY individuals’.
So why do we need the sunshine vitamin? It is essential for the metabolism and absorption of calcium and phosphorous, playing the major role in bone and muscle health. It is also important for:
- intestinal detoxification
- blood pressure regulation
- muscle strength
- skin health
Given that our sunshine vitamin is essential, we need it and we want it! So where best to get it from? Sunshine!
Vitamin D is produced when sunlight interacts with your skin. It is also obtained from your diet in small amounts, from fatty fish, liver, sun-dried shiitake mushrooms, vegetables, eggs and meats. Vitamin D fortification is common in foods such as milks, yoghurts, cereals and juices.
Some people may not get the optimum amount of vitamin D. There are a number of reasons you may be missing out including:
- modern lifestyles
- minimal sun exposure
- skin issues such as skin cancer, skin pigmentation
- obesity, malabsorption
- air pollutants
During pregnancy there is increased need for vitamin D, as the foetus is dependent on the mother’s vitamin D levels. Elderly people may be at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency due to inadequate sun exposure, less ability to metabolise it due to age, and less vitamin D precursor in the skin. Serious illness may affect vitamin D absorption, especially those illnesses which prevent fat absorption such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and kidney or liver problems.
There is so much more that could be said about the sunshine vitamin, its benefits and actions within your body, so keep checking in with our blog for more mentions. If you have any concerns about your vitamin D levels, why not make appointment with one of our practitioners at the Paua Clinic?
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