Goodbody - Vitamin D

 

The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is used for a multitube of purposes within our bodies. It is naturally produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight, which is where most of our Vitamin D comes from, so it has aptly been coined the ‘sunshine vitamin’. A small amount can also be digested through fortified foods, but the body needs enough to support healthy, strong bones, teeth and muscles, whilst also being able to promote healthy immunity.

Typically, those with fairer, younger skin produce Vitamin D better than those with darker, older skin. However, those with have very pale skin are less likely to produce enough Vitamin D, as their skin is more prone to burning. All in all, majority of the population of the UK are Vitamin D deficient, as the varying climate effects UV levels from the sun and therefore sunlight exposure is not strong enough for skin to create Vitamin D.

It is recommended that each person spends between 15 and 20 minutes in the sunshine, at least 3 times a week. Please remember to apply a good SPF sun cream before going out into the sun, no matter how much pigment your skin has.

 

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?

People By Age

Recommended Dietary Allowance (IU/Day)

Upper-Level Intake (IU/DAY)

Infants 0-6 Months

400

1000

Infants 7-12 Months

400

1500

Children 1-3 Years Old

600

2500

Children 4-8 Years Old

600

3000

People 9-70 Years Old

600

4000

People 70+ Years Old

800

4000

Females 14-50 Years Old (Pregnant/Lactating)

600

4000

 

How is Vitamin D Used by the Body?

Helps support strong, healthy bones: Having healthy bones prevents conditions such as rickets forming, especially within young children. Rickets causes weak, soft bones due to a deficiency in Vitamin D. Vitamin D required by the body to help regulate a healthy amount of calcium and phosphorus, which is used to build healthy bone structures. In adults, having soft bones can lead to a condition called osteomalacia, which is brought on by a severe deficiency in Vitamin D.

Promotes Calcium Absorption: Lower levels of Vitamin D can lead to weak bones, otherwise known as osteoporosis, the loss of bone density which can cause bone fractures. Vitamin D digested orally through supplements or diet, or when produced by the skin from exposure to the sun, is converted into an active form of Vitamin D. Active Vitamin D promotes optimal absorption of calcium from your diet, helping to build bones and keep teeth healthy.

Working with Parathyroid Glands: The parathyroid glands are four small butterfly-shaped glands, which help to regulate calcium within the body. They work by communicating with the kidneys, gut and skeleton to extensively balance calcium levels. When sufficient calcium is present within the body, Vitamin D is used to absorb dietary calcium into the body, which is put to good use. If there is a deficiency of calcium or Vitamin D levels, calcium will be taken from the skeleton to keep the calcium within our blood at a normal level. This can lead to weak and brittle bones.

 

Can Vitamin D Deficiency Lead to Other Health Risks?

As Vitamin D is a key vitamin used by the body, a shortage of it can cause further health and wellbeing complications such as:

          High Blood Pressure

          Heart Disease

          Diabetes

          Infections

          Immunity Complications and Immune System Disorders

          Falls in the Elderly

          Some forms of cancer, such as colon, prostate and breast cancer.

          Multiple sclerosis

          Hair loss

          Feeling tired or fatigued

Vitamin D plays a huge role in promoting a healthy immune system, so a severe deficiency in the vitamin can alter the body’s ability to fight off infection and cause sometimes life-threatening conditions.

 

Getting Enough Vitamin D into Your Diet

Vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in most foods, but is instead added during the production stage, which leads to fortified foods. Some diet choices can lead to a lack of Vitamin D; for example, those who follow lactose-free or vegan diets are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D. Supplements are an excellent way of getting Vitamin D into your body, however it is always important to eat a healthy and balanced diet, which includes all food groups. The foods richest in Vitamin D are displayed in the table below and are ideal for topping up your Vitamin D levels.

 

Food type

Vitamin D Level International Units (IUs)

1tbsp Covid Liver Oil

1360 IUs

Cooked Salmon Fillet

447 IUs

Canned Tuna, Drained

154 IUs

Fortified Milk (Dairy or Non-Dairy)

115 – 124 IUs

Fortified Cereal

40 IUs

1 Large Egg

40 IUs