August 9, 2019 6:15 am 1 Comment
It’s summer – and that means there’s a special free offer on vitamin D! For a few months only (possibly, in fact, only a few weeks), vitamin D is completely free to everyone. All you need to do is head out into the sunshine…. Take this blog with you: today, we’re going to look at how to increase your stocks of vitamin D the natural way!
What’s Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is the element that helps us absorb calcium and phosphate, which are vital for keeping our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. A shortage of this vitamin can lead to bone tenderness and deformities (rickets in children; osteomalacia in adults), problem with teeth and gums, lethargy, tiredness, greater susceptibility to illness, and depression.
We absorb vitamin D in two ways: through our skin and through our gut. In the UK, we can obtain most of our vitamin D needs through sunlight from around March to October. Right now, we’re in the peak vitamin D period, so don’t lock yourself away in a darkened room – get out there and start absorbing!
You need to be sensible, of course: it’s not advisable to sunbathe with no protection at the hottest part of the day on a Mediterranean beach. But you should make sure you get out and about in the sun for a certain period of time each day (estimates of how long you should spend out there vary widely, but aiming for at least 15 minutes per day is a good idea). If you’re not on a beach in the Med, but instead on a slightly overcast patch of shingle in Devon, then don’t automatically slather yourself and the kids in sun cream and cover up from head to toe with UV protective clothing right away. Keeping safe and getting enough sunlight is a balancing act – and while sun damage is serious, so is deficiency in vitamin D.
How much vitamin D we absorb from the sun depends on many factors: what we’re wearing (if you’re out in a swimsuit, you’ll take in much more than if you’re in a 3-piece suit); the colour of our skin (darker skins absorb less); the time of day and time of year (early morning and evening sun don’t do as much good, and outside of March-October, the sun – while always welcome! – doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation for our skins to be able to make Vitamin D); and our age (older people absorb less).
Another point worth noting is that our bodies can’t make vitamin D simply by sitting next to sunny windows, as UVB rays can’t penetrate glass. For more practical and simple advice, see this NHS link.
Not enough sun?
Outside of March-October, and during horribly dull British summers, we need to rely on food sources (and for some people, supplements too) to obtain enough vitamin D. Food sources are particularly important for anyone who isn’t often exposed to the sun, such as those who are housebound or in an institution, or anyone who covers up most of their skin when outdoors.
Not many foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, but you can get a reasonable amount of it in cod liver oil, in eggs and in oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel. It’s also added to various ‘fortified’ products, such as cereals, margarines and powdered milk (for babies). Why not combine some fish with eggs – for example, in kedgeree or a salade nicoise – for a really good burst of Vitamin D?
And don’t forget the overall importance of a balanced diet. To properly absorb vitamin D, we need other ‘cofactors’, which include vitamin K2, magnesium, zinc and boron. By making sure our diets in general cover all the bases, we protect ourselves against all kinds of nutritional deficiencies.
Can we ‘stockpile’ vitamin D?
Can our bodies absorb enough vitamin D in the bright summer months to keep us going through the dark winter? Can we stockpile this element? To a degree, yes, we can. But we do need a lot of it in the summer to keep us going through the winter – and in the UK, some of us will struggle to obtain that. It’s also much harder to store-and-release vitamin D if you’re overweight or obese.
Is a supplement a good idea?
The NHS recommends that we all take a vitamin D supplement. This expert, however, disagrees. We’d advise you to read all the evidence you can, listen to your body and your doctor, and make up your own mind.
As a simple bit of dietary advice, however, the prescription to eat a good diet and get out into the sun as much as possible, simply can’t be beat!Fish4ever, mackerel, natural vitamin D, oily fish, salmon, sardines, sunshine, vitamin D
This post was written by Yzanne