Many of us know about keeping our vitamin A, B and C topped up by eating plenty of nutritious fruit and vegetables. However, not many of us know much about vitamin D or why it’s so important to our health. Because of this, we don’t worry about making sure we’re not lacking in it and this can result in health complications. This is worrying news when statistics show that almost half of us suffer from a vitamin D deficiency.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is often presumed to come from the sun and this isn’t strictly true. However, the sun does trigger the process that vitamin D needs in order to help your bones absorb the calcium they need so they can grow and strengthen. This means that inadequate sun exposure can result in your bones not getting the nutrients it needs and you being at higher risk of bone diseases, such as osteoporosis.
Vitamin D is also heavily linked to diseases which affect the immune system, such as multiple sclerosis and even cancer, and is said to greatly improve your immune system if your levels are high.
On the other hand, low levels have also been linked to the development of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s thought the effects of these can be reversed with vitamin D supplementation or, in the case of S.A.D., a florescent life to trigger the process vitamin D needs to be effective.
How do I get enough vitamin D?
Getting enough vitamin D can be difficult because it isn’t in many foods. Some fish, certain mushrooms and fortified cereals and dairy are known to contain it in relatively small amounts, but ultimately it’s your sun exposure which makes the difference. It’s said we need to get out in the full summer sun for a minimum of ten minutes a day without any sunscreen – more for those with darker skin. Also, taking cod liver oil tablets a few times a day can ensure you’re consuming adequate amounts.
Visiting your doctor for blood work is the best way to tell if you’re suffering from a vitamin D deficiency as the symptoms are quite vague and easily mistaken as something else. These symptoms include generally feeling weak and tired, along with aches and pain in your muscles and bones. If you are suffering from this, you may have your vitamin D levels boosted in the form of supplementation.