Every week it seems that a new piece of research shows the importance of Vitamin D and how a lack of it causes health conditions and diseases.
So, what is the Importance of Vitamin D in the body?
Unlike other vitamins, your body makes its own Vitamin D as a result of the exposure of your skin to sunlight. Ultraviolet B rays trigger the production of cholecalciferol (Vitamin D) in the skin. In the UK, we can only make Vitamin D from sunlight between the months of May and September.
However, you don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn.
Then, your body converts the Vitamin D that is made by the skin into a hormone called calcitriol (or activated Vitamin D).
This plays a number of important functions in the body including:
- The absorption of calcium and phosphorus into the bones and teeth
- Supporting the immune system
- Helping communication between cells
- Supporting a healthy respiratory system
- Muscle function
- Brain development
- Reducing inflammation
We can get tiny amounts of Vitamin D from specific foods such as oily fish, liver and eggs, and some foods are fortified with it (butter, margarine, milk, breakfast cereals). However, the quantities we can get from food are negligible compared to what our skin makes from sun exposure.
What health conditions are associated with Vitamin D deficiency?
- Rickets and osteomalacia (thin, soft or brittle bones)
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Autoimmune diseases
Are there any health conditions which impact our Vitamin D levels?
Yes, some health conditions will impair the body’s production of Vitamin D as well as its absorption.
- Kidney and liver disease
- Coeliac disease, cystic fibrosis and Crohn’s Disease which impair the absorption of Vitamin D
In addition to this, our ability to produce Vitamin D declines with age.
Who should be concerned about low Vitamin D levels?
All of us living in the UK! But it is particularly important for:
- anyone who has broken a bone
- those with a diagnosis of osteomalacia, osteopenia or osteoporosis
- women trying to conceive
- people suffering from depression
- those suffering from bone pain or “growing pains”
- pregnant women
- the elderly
- those whose exposure to the sun is restricted either by working indoors, clothing or having to wear sunscreen because of fair skin
- people with autoimmune conditions such as Coeliac Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis
- anyone diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis
- overweight people
How can you find out your Vitamin D levels?
Your GP can test your Vitamin D for free. Otherwise, I can supply you with a finger prick home testing kit.
If you are interested I offer a Vitamin D package which includes:
- a home testing kit
- a consultation to advise you on appropriate supplementation and dosage,
- plus dietary and lifestyle tips.
Please email me to find out more: email@example.com