Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that our bodies produce in abundance in many parts of the world, however due to the UK’s northern latitude and limited sunshine, deficiency is a common problem faced by many. Also known as ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol, this vitamin is produced in the skin when exposed to sunlight and is also found in some foods.
- Being overweight (BMI 30+)
- Issues absorbing vitamin D – Celiac disease & Crohn’s disease
- Issues converting vitamin D into it’s active form (1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol)
- Spending a lot of time indoors
- Wearing skin covering clothing for religious reasons
Signs & Symptoms
- Tooth decay
- Muscle twitching
- Weak bones
- Joint pain
Having an adequate intake of vitamin D will do wonders for your health, both mentally and physically. Perhaps the biggest benefit is helping to maintain healthy bones and teeth. This is partly because of vitamin D’s ability to absorb calcium into bones, assisted by the trace element Boron.
Healthy bones due to an adequate calcium absorption decreases the risk of developing both types of arthritis – Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions both involve the bones becoming weak and painful at either joints or the whole body. Alongside vitamin D and calcium, a supply of Magnesium is also crucial to avoid these diseases.
Kidney stones are abnormal accumulations of mineral salts that can be found in the kidneys, bladder or in fact anywhere along the urinary tract. Many factors are said to lead to kidney stones, for example not taking on enough fluid, high salt intake and high animal protein intake. Studies have found that the higher an individuals vitamin D levels (within safe limits), the lower the occurrence of kidney stones.
Researchers have found that an adequate vitamin D intake can reduce the risk of contracting major diseases such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease and also the common flu. Overall your immune system is boosted and able to fend off unwanted pathogens and viruses, keeping you healthier and happier!
Ensuring you are hitting your recommended amount of this vitamin while going through the teenage years can help to avoid some of the not so pleasant side effects that often go hand in hand with puberty – acne, weight gain and mental/behavioural problems.
Number one source of Vitamin D – Sunshine!
However there are many dietary sources, I will name a few of my favourite but the list is far more extensive, do your research and you are guaranteed to find your perfect source.
- Mushrooms – although the conventional shop bought mushrooms contain less Vitamin D than wild mushrooms, they are still a good source and gives you a valid excuse to eat the whole punnet! Although I have no experience of this mushroom, I hear Maitake has the highest vitamin content.
- Plant milk – Fortifying plant milks such as almond and hazelnut with vitamin D is a very common practise.
- Tofu – Tofu is also commonly fortified with vitamin D
Intakes vary from country to country and organisations. However the general consensus is 15mcg per day and 10mcg per day for babies under 12 months. However in some countries the RDA (recommended daily allowance is as high as 50mcg. This shows that vitamin D toxicity is extremely rare and not something to be concerned about. You would have to be getting around 100mcg for there to be negative effects on your bones and kidneys because of the extremely high calcium levels.
Thankyou for reading and really the main message I would love to be conveyed from this post is to get outside into the light of the sun and have fun! Dietary sources are fantastic for topping up if we are running low, but truthfully, if you are getting out and about into the outdoors this summer, you will be completely fine just the way you are.