As we move into the warmer & sunnier months, I wanted to take a moment to discuss the topic of the sunshine vitamin…vitamin D! Deficiencies in this nutrient are becoming more common, and this is worrying, because vitamin D is a major player when it comes to our health.
If you know or suspect that you have low vitamin D levels, you are predisposed to osteoporosis, arthritis or other bone or joint problems, or you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, then here are 6 must-knows when it comes to this amazing, and extremely important nutrient:
1 – Vitamin D is made by sunlight
When the sunlight hits your skin, it has a chemical reaction with the cholesterol in your skin to form the hormone, Vitamin D. Wearing too much sun cream can block this process, so make sure you get some sun exposure in the early morning or late afternoon with no cream on your skin.
2 – Best food sources
Fish liver oils are the best source of Vitamin D, as well as fatty fish also providing a moderate source (sardine, tuna, salmon etc), eggs or lamb liver. These foods are important, especially if you live somewhere that doesn’t get a lot of sunshine, or if you are indoors a lot.
You can also take a fish oil supplement, but make sure that it is NOT heat-treated, and is preferably fermented. This product is one that I recommend, as it is fermented and cold-pressed.
3 – You Need Vitamin D To Absorb Calcium
Vitamin D is needed to allow Calcium to be absorbed out of the small intestine….so in other words, absolutely essential for your bone health! If you are taking lots of Calcium supplements, you want to make sure you have enough Vitamin D, otherwise you could be calcifying your blood vessels!! Calcium mostly comes from our food, and the small intestines is where nutrients are absorbed from our food that has been broken down & digested.
4 – There are two forms of Vitamin D
It’s good to know and be aware of this, especially if you are taking supplements.
- Vitamin D2 – this kind is mostly found in plants. Vitamin D2 is is considered one of the more toxic vitamins, so only take this as a supplement with great caution, or under the advice of a doctor or registered dietician/nutritionist
- Vitamin D3 – this is the naturally occurring form found in man & animals, for example, in cod liver oil, fatty fish, butter and animal liver.
5 – Low fat diets are bad news for Vitamin D and bone health
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that it is stored in our fat cells in our body. If you follow a low-fat diet, this could be seriously detrimental to your health. Having good fats in the body is so important for supporting healthy bones, central nervous system and cardiovascular system! Make sure you are having avocados, seeds, nuts, olive oil and oily fish (unless you are allergic!) on a regular basis. (I’ll cover fats in another post)
6 – Vitamin D helps protect against many health problems
It’s not just bone health we need Vitamin D for. As you can see by this list, it is such an important nutrient our bodies need to ward of a long list of chronic disease:
- Chronic Pain
- Mental Illness
- Rickets & osteomalacia
- Hypocalcemia (deficiency of calcium in the blood)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Other autoimmune disease
7 – Low vitamin D levels are linked to risk of developing Dementia
A recent study has just revealed a link between vitamin D consumption, and the risk of developing dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease. More research in the area is definitely needed, but it’s enough evidence to hopefully encourage you to get into the sunshine and eat plenty of oily fish, to avoid getting dementia in your later years!! Read more here.
Have plenty of good fat in your diet
Expose your arms & face in the sun for at least 10-minutes per day (this varies depending on your skin pigment), ideally in the early morning or afternoon when the sun won’t burn you.
Comment below if you would like to know more about this topic!