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All about vitamin D

Vitamin D, aka “Sun Vitamin” belongs to the group of fat-soluble vitamins. It serves a plethora of functions in our body. It helps out gut absorb important nutrients, such calcium and magnesium. 

 

Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D protects our bodies against osteoporosis. The Sun Vitamin helps our body maintain normal immune system as well as muscle function. It helps to reduce risk of falling within 60 and over age group, which is a leading cause of hospital admissions. Recent studies show that being vitamin D deficient will affect our risk and severity of Covid-19 infection. Low levels of vitamin D is linked with two major bowel diseases – Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. 

 

Soak it up!

Our bodies literally soak up vitamin D from the sun. If we expose our face, arms and legs for approximately 5-30 minutes per day, couple times per week we should be able to maintain adequate serum levels. The darker the skin, the longer time required. It is impossible to “overdose” on skin synthesis, however you should remain mindful of preventing sunburn.

You are a funGUY
Main dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, liver, egg yolks and… UV mushrooms. Mushrooms contain large amounts of vitamin D when exposed to UV light. You can make your own vitamin D mushrooms by drying your mushrooms on your windowsill. When they dried they not only pack a Sun vitamin punch but they are also full of flavour. Use them in soups, stews, scrambled eggs and risottos.

When to take supplements?
Between April and September we should be able to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure and dietary sources. It is recommended that between October and March everyone above the age of 5 takes vitamin D supplement. 10 micrograms per day is sufficient. Supplements are cheap and easy to obtain. They can be taken in a form of tablet of drops/spray for those who struggle to take tablets. Vegan versions are available.

How about working from home?
Many of us are now working from home. Spending most of Monday to Friday in our flats, barely getting outside. Groceries and food deliveries make it more convenient and give us more excuses to never step outside. For those who are stuck in an indoor routine I would recommend taking a vitamin D supplement all year round.

How much is too much?
Vitamin D is fat soluble, which means that our bodies simply cannot pee out the excess amounts they aren’t going to use. Vitamin D toxicity is not a common issue, however prolonged use of excess amount of vitamin D supplements can lead to some health issues. Main being build-up of calcium in our bodies. Symptoms can range from nausea and vomiting to kidney failure. Less is more, recommendations are guidelines are in place for a reason. Stick to 10-25 micrograms per day and you will be fine.

Sun vitamin and Covid-19 pandemic
Evidence is emerging linking adequate levels of vitamin D and severity of Covid-19 infections. Clinical trials are happening as you read this and guidelines are soon to be published. One thing is for certain – if you are elderly, you are caring for someone elderly or are in a venerable group and don’t leave your house as much, vitamin D supplements should be on your shopping list.

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