All you need to know about Vitamin D
What is it?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in a few foods such as oily fish (salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel) red meat, liver and egg yolk. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.
Why do we need it?
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called Osteomalacia in adults.
Vitamin D is also great at avoiding:
- Regularly getting infections, colds or the flu
- Feeling tired
- Bone, lower back or muscle pain
- Slow-healing wounds
- Hair loss
In the UK some groups of people were thought to be more vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency, such as those with dark skin, those who do not spend much time outdoors (e.g. institutionalised or housebound people) and those who habitually cover the skin
However, with coronavirus we are all going out less and instead of going outside we need to get our Vitamin D online. 90% of the our vitamin D in our bodies is produced in response to sunlight and we are not getting enough for our required vitamin D intake.
Several studies associate low levels of vitamin D in your blood to a higher risk of sleep disturbances, poorer sleep quality and reduced sleep duration. Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, impairment in immunity and lower sex drive. Chronic sleep deprivation can even affect your appearance.
Vitamin D and depression
Studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression. Researchers behind a large scale study in 2013 noticed that study participants with depression also had low vitamin D levels. The same analysis found that, statistically, people with low vitamin D were at a much greater risk of depression.
The researchers believe that because vitamin D is important to healthy brain function, insufficient nutrient levels may play a role in depression and other mental illnesses. An earlier trusted study identified vitamin D receptors in the same areas of the brain associated with depression.
Vitamin D and pregnancy
All pregnant women should take a 10 microgram supplement of vitamin D each day to give your baby enough vitamin D for the first few months of life it helps to absorb the right a amount of calcium and phosphate. Is is especially important in pregnancy as it helps your babies bones, teeth, kidneys, heart and nervous system to develop.
Breastfeeding mums should take a vitamin D supplement as well. It’s also recommended that babies who are being breastfed are given a daily vitamin D supplement from birth, whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.
Vitamin D for kids
Babies from birth to 1 year of age who are being breastfed should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D to make sure they get enough. This is whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.
Babies fed infant formula shouldn’t be given a vitamin D supplement if they’re having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, because infant formula is fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients.
Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10µg of vitamin D.
Children over 5 should continue to take a daily supplement until adulthood
Children with an increased risk:
- Children with very dark skin. The dark colour of their skin (melanin) acts as a natural sunscreen and increases the time they need in the sun to make vitamin D naturally.
- Children whose skin is rarely exposed to the sun e.g. those who stay inside or who wear covering clothing
- Babies born prematurely
- Children with conditions affecting how the body absorbs and controls vitamin D, such as liver disease, kidney disease, problems absorbing food (e.g. cystic fibrosis, coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease) and some medicines (such as some epilepsy medicines).
Obesity and Vitamin D
A link exists between vitamin D deficiency and people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. People who are obese may need to absorb more vitamin D than people of average weight in order to reach recommended nutrient levels.
If your BMI is 30 or higher, work with your doctor to come up with a manageable weight loss plan, and increase the amount of vitamin D supplement you take accordingly.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fat-soluble vitamins can build up in the body and are not as easily excreted as water-soluble vitamins.
Posted by: Sarah Dixon | Posted on: January 20, 2021 | Posted in: HEALTH & WELLBEING