By Dr Caroline Longmore
You have probably been taking vitamin to fight off colds for years…but when it comes to health benefits, Vitamin D is the real champ.
By now, most of us know that Vitamin D is a healthy by product of time in the sun, but what exactly is it? And do you have enough?
Vitamin D is a hormone, and it’s the product of a reaction that occurs when UV light strikes the skin. It’s responsible for helping regulate hundreds of other genes in the body, including those that balance mood, prevent heart disease, and absorb key nutrients like calcium and phosphorus.
It protects against muscle weakness and is involved in regulation of the heartbeat and colon cancer, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and hypocalcaemia, enhance immunity; and is necessary for thyroid function and normal blood clotting.
It is also important in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer
The medical community recommends 600 IU (international units) of Vitamin D3 a day, which comes from around 10-15 minutes of sun exposure to bare skin, sans sunscreen.
Nearly 50 percent of people have insufficient levels of Vitamin D, and an estimated 1 billion worldwide are Vitamin D deficient. Though 30 percent of those who have Vitamin D deficiency don’t exhibit any symptoms, it can lead to a slew of health issues like cardiovascular disease, depression, and dementia. Common early symptoms include muscle weakness and fatigue.
Researchers blame this ever-present Vitamin D deficiency on reduced outdoor activity and increased use of high-SPF sunscreen. And yet, physicians and scientists agree that we should continue to use sun protection.
So what’s a health-conscious sun-lover to do? Fear not: prevailing studies show that it is possible for people who use sunscreen daily to maintain their Vitamin D levels. You just have to use it effectively.
The best way to check your levels; is a blood test.
Symptoms that may indicate vitamin D deficiency:
- Frequent bone breaks or fractures
- Inadequate bone growth in children
- Muscle weakness and aches
- Frequent colds, flu, respiratory tract infections
- General lethargy, tiredness, aches, and pains
There are also some pretty serious potential long-term consequences of vitamin D deficiency, including autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, immune function, hypertension, muscle weakness, and infectious diseases.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for children and adults, and 800 IU for elderly (over 70) and pregnant or lactating women.
If you plan to take a supplement, D3, not D2, is the form you want. Also, vitamins A, K2, and magnesium help your body use vitamin D.
Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, the form of vitamin D that we get from foods if you’re trying to boost your vitamin D intake with food, you need to be very specific. Sources include fatty fish like salmon, halibut, sardines, or tuna; egg yolk, butter, dandelion green, shiitake and chanterelle mushrooms, sweet potatoes, liver; and cod liver oil.
Some foods such as dairy products and cereals are fortified, but you would need to eat a high quantity (meaning: eat them every day) for them to make a difference.
If you’re having trouble absorbing your supplement, we recommend:
- Take vitamin D under your tongue rather than swallowing it (sublingually).
- Try relying on more sun exposure.
- Increase your intake
- Take every opportunity by spending plenty of time outside in the sunshine….but do not forget to protect your skin from sun damage though.
At Make Me feel, we offer a full range of Vitamin D for the whole Family. Just ask us for the Sun Vitamin!