At a time when it’s crucial to have a healthy immune system, both to help prevent infections and support our body in recovering when we do get ill, we wanted to share some facts and important information with you about vitamin D.
How do our bodies get vitamin D?
In humans, around 90% of the vitamin D we need is synthesised in the skin when we are exposed to sunlight and the other 10% is obtained from certain foods. The former is why it is sometimes referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’! The amount of vitamin D that we produce is influenced by the latitude we live at, the time of year it is, the time of day we tend to venture outside, whether we are wearing sunscreen and the natural pigmentation of our skin.
For example, during the winter months in the UK (and anywhere else above the northerly latitude of 35 degrees) the UVB rays from the sun don’t penetrate all the way down to our skin, so we can’t make vitamin D. That’s why Public Health England recommends that all adults and children (over the age of 1) should take a vitamin D supplement throughout autumn and winter.
Why is vitamin D so important?
When our bodies get vitamin D (from either the skin’s exposure to sunlight or food) they turn it into a hormone called activated vitamin D or calciferol. This works to help to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in our bodies for healthy bones, muscles and teeth.
Did you know that even if you get plenty of calcium in your diet (from sources such as milk and leafy green vegetables), your body can’t absorb it unless you have enough vitamin D? That means that a lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and a bone condition called osteomalacia in adults.
Activated vitamin D also contributes to the normal function of the immune system and the process of cell division. If you are keen to support your immune system function at this time, it’s worth considering if you are likely to be getting enough vitamin D.
Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?
- People who are unable to go out much during the daytime in those all-important spring and summer months, such as office workers, the housebound, and night shift or factory workers.
- People who cover most of their skin with clothing when they go outside, even during the warmer weather.
- People over 65, because their skin is not as good at making vitamin D.
- Now that self-isolation and social distancing measures are part of our day-to-day life, we all need to keep an eye on the amount of sunlight we get.
Which foods can we get Vitamin D from?
As mentioned above, the best source of vitamin D is when our bodies are exposed to sunlight and make it for us, but we can get a small amount by eating certain foods as well.
The most common food sources of vitamin D include:
- Oily fish such as sardines, salmon, pilchards, trout, herring and kippers.
- Eggs – mainly from the yolk, so be careful if you’re keen on egg white omelette!
- Red meat, though this will vary depending on what kind of meat and the time of year it is produced.
- Milk – again, it can depend on the time of year
- Fortified products such as cereals, some dairy products and soy milk.
Altruvita’s high-strength vitamin D supplement
Along with vitamin C and selenium, vitamin D helps to support a healthy immune system, along with the other important roles it plays in our body. Shop Altruvita’s high-quality cholecalciferol vitamin D supplement here.