Vitamin D is vital to our bodies and contributes to various functions and body parts. For example, it helps maintain our immune system, supports strong and healthy bones and helps keep muscles and teeth healthy. In addition, vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate. There is also evidence to suggest it can support brain function and improve heart health. However, this research is still in the early stages.
Our bodies can produce most or all the vitamin D we require when our skin is exposed to direct UV sunlight. This can be easy in the summer months if you spend some time outdoors daily. However, it can be more problematic during the cooler months as we have less sunlight. In fact, the government advises that everyone consider using a vitamin D supplement daily during the autumn and winter months.
A common issue with vitamin D is that it isn’t easy to obtain through diet alone. This issue becomes more of a problem if the person doesn’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight or supplement. Although a few foods can be a source of vitamin D, it isn’t easy to consume enough. Food sources include oily fish, egg yolks, liver, red meat and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and fat spreads.
As mentioned earlier, many of us will be able to produce the vitamin D we require from sunlight from early April to September. For anybody over the age of 1 year, the recommendation is ten micrograms of vitamin D a day, sometimes written as 40 IU (international units). A vitamin supplement is a good option for those who are not outdoors often, cover most of their skin or are indoors through lighter hours.
Too little vitamin D can result in rickets in children, where the bones become soft. It can also cause osteomalacia in adults, where bones can become fragile and even misshapen. On the other hand, overconsumption of vitamin D can build up calcium in the body, known as hypercalcemia. This build-up can weaken bones and damage the heart and kidneys. However, the issue is unlikely to occur, particularly if you stick to having ten micrograms a day.
In summary, vitamin D is a critical vitamin for our bodies and has several essential functions. Ensuring you get enough vitamin D is important and should be easy to achieve with a supplement or daily sunlight. If you’d like to learn about your vitamin D levels, take our vitamin D test for fast results and personalised recommendations.