Vitamin D The Forgotten One

You know the feeling that you have forgotten something? You know it is very important and it gnaws at you all day? Well, vitamin D can be considered a forgotten vitamin that’s extremely important for your body.

We know that vitamin D is important but what does it actually do? Sometimes known as the ‘ sunshine vitamin ‘, vitamin D helps the body (via the intestines) absorb calcium, which is as essential building block of bone and teeth.  Low levels of vitamin D can lead to poor absorption of calcium, resulting in bone disease like osteoporosis and rickets.

Vitamin D also plays important roles in your nervous and immune systems. Nerves use the vitamin to carry messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

Low levels of vitamin D also appear to be linked to poor immunity against viruses and bacteria.

The lack of sun exposure during winter months in the northern hemisphere has been linked to an increased risk of getting the flu. Some studies have found that low levels of vitamin D has also been linked to a greater susceptibility to tuberculosis.

We are often told that we can easily get it from being exposed to the sun but honestly, how much sun exposure do we actually get when we spend most of our daylight hours indoors, often in front of a computer screen?

This is not helped by the fact that most research is not able to pinpoint how much time you actually need to be in the sun to get a sufficient dose of vitamin D. The British National Health Service (NHS) says that the duration of time spent in the sun should be ‘typically short and less than the time needed to reduce or burn’.

Then, of course, each person reacts differently to the sun’s warm rays. Some absorb more vitamin D more quickly than others with the same amount of time exposed to the sun. The NHS suggests regularly going outside for a few minutes around the idle of the day without sunscreen in order to get your daily required vitamin D. But there’s a caveat to the advice: it applies to the UK and not necessarily in hotter climates.

Vitamin D, where art thou?

Apart from the sun, we can get the vitamin from 2 other sources – diet and supplementation.

Vitamin D can be acquired from foods like egg yolk, saltwater fish, mushrooms and liver. You can also get your supply from milk and cereal which are often enriched with vitamin D. You also have the option of taking supplements.

A simple blood test can determine if you are suffering from vitamin D deficiency.

Ask your doctor if you should be screened.

People who may need extra vitamin D:

  • Seniors
  • Breasted infants
  • Have dark skin
  • Suffer certain conditions such as liver disease, cystic fibrosis and Crohn’s disease
  • Are obese or had gastric bypass surgery

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