Vitamin D is one vitamin that most doctors and scientists agree about. They say that most of us probably don’t get enough of it, especially if you live in less-sunny climes such as the UK and Ireland. You may know vitamin D is linked to sunshine, but do you know the benefits it can bring? Here’s everything you need to know about this sunny vitamin.
Why Do You Need Vitamin D?
The primary reason that you need vitamin D is that, without it, your body can’t absorb calcium. It doesn’t matter how much milk you drink. If you don’t have vitamin D, your body can’t do a thing with the calcium. This means that vitamin D is needed to promote bone health, prevent osteoporosis and to keep your heart healthy.
While everyone is worried about getting sick, it might be reassuring to know that vitamin D has been shown to boost the immune system. It has shown good results in helping to prevent seasonal flu infections and can generally help improve your overall health which is a significant benefit at this time.
Furthermore, Public Health England has recommended that while in lockdown, people should take vitamin D supplements.
How Do You Get Vitamin D?
The best way to get vitamin D3 is by getting out and enjoying a healthy dose of sunshine. Now in the UK that can be hard. It can also be hard when you’re living through a global pandemic, are on lockdown and don’t have a garden. This difficulty in getting enough exposure to sunshine is part of why vitamin D levels are low in many people.
Even if you live in a place with a lot of sunshine, it can still be hard to get the right exposure. That’s because if you use sunscreen, which you should, you also stop your body from producing vitamin D.
There are foodstuffs that contain reasonable amounts of vitamin D too. Some foods contain vitamin D naturally. Oily fish naturally contains vitamin D, as do cheese, egg yolks and beef liver. Other foods have vitamin D added. Any fortified foods will contain vitamin D; these are foods like milk and cereal.
The final option for getting vitamin D is from supplements. These are an easy way to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D in your diet.
Are There Different Types Of Vitamin D?
The main types of vitamin D that you should care about are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. D3 is the type of vitamin D that our bodies make. So, it is the most effective form of vitamin D. Plants make vitamin D2. Our bodies can still use it, but it’s not as efficient. If you choose to use a vitamin D supplement, you’re better off going for a D3 supplement.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
The amount of vitamin D you should take varies based on your age and gender. For most adults, a dose of around 25 micrograms (1000IU) per day should be sufficient, but up to 100 micrograms (4000IU) is fine.
Should You Take A Vitamin D Supplement?
Most of us don’t get enough vitamin D. So there is a good chance that adding a vitamin D supplement to your routine will have a positive impact on your health and well being. A vitamin D supplement doesn’t have to be a year-round addition to your diet. In the summertime, if you are getting out and getting some sun, then you should be fine. However, if you always wear sunscreen, can’t get out, or it’s winter, then vitamin D supplements are advisable.
The NHS advises taking a vitamin D supplement in wintertime, and if you are spending a lot of time indoors as a result of the lockdown.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient. This is important because it means the body stores it. So, if you take too much, you can overdose. There is a big difference between the recommended dose and the safe upper limit, so you can take a supplement without concern, as long as you follow the dosage instructions. The upper limit depends on your age and gender, so do read the bottle with care. However, you can’t overdose on vitamin D made from sunshine. So even if you take a supplement, you can still enjoy the sun when it’s out.