As the temperature finally heats up and the sun comes out this bank holiday weekend, there is such a temptation to bask in the sunlight and enjoy that energy lift to both mind and body and there is a good reason why! Your body is craving that feel good boost – it's that vitamin D, so why do we need it?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is required to maintain strong bones and muscles. A lack of vitamin D can result in all sorts of muscle disease, muscle weakness, and increased risk of falls. This fat-soluble vitamin mostly helps in calcium absorption, bone growth, and mineralization.
Vitamin D is also amazing for strengthening our immune system etc. Research suggests that vitamin D may help prevent certain illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, this is particularly relevant for my family as my mother suffered terribly with this and is why it is a daily supplement for me.
So what can we do to increase our vitamin D ?
Firstly, enjoy that sunlight: Vitamin D is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin.” Our skin hosts a type of cholesterol that makes Vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. However, the amount of vitamin D your body can make depends on several parameters like your skin tone, the exposed part of the body, age, etc. Reasonable exposure in sun from 1000 hours to 1500 hours is an excellent way to maintain the body’s Vitamin D Levels.
- Seafood: Fatty fish and seafood are among the richest natural food sources of vitamin D. Many kinds of seafood are also rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, rainbow trout, mackerel, oysters, salmons, sardines, and anchovies)
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are the only completely plant-based source of vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms can make their own vitamin D upon exposure to UV light. Humans produce a form of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol}, whereas mushrooms produce D2 (ergocalciferol). However, one should always purchase them from a trusted supplier such as a grocery store or farmers market to avoid exposure to poisonous varieties. Shiitake mushrooms particularly are recommended for vitamin D content.
- Egg yolks: Egg yolks are a common source of vitamin D that can be easily added to the routine diet.
- Fortified foods: Vitamin D may be added to certain foods to increase their nutritive value. This process is called fortification. Some common vitamin D fortified goods include:
- soy, almond, and hemp milk
- orange juice
- ready-to-eat cereals
- certain types of yogurt
- Dairy foods: Dairy products like swiss cheese, cow milk, curds, cottage cheese are also good Vitamin D sources.
- A tablespoon of cod liver oil contains 1360 international units of vitamin D. Consumption of cod liver oil with warm water or taking cod liver oil capsules may enhance vitamin D levels.
- Supplements: For me, I do all of the above but also include a vitamin D supplement everyday and it really doeas make a difference, particularly living in London, where sunlight has been a little hidden for these last months!
- For many people, taking a vitamin D supplement may be the best way to ensure adequate intake. Vitamin D exists in two main biological forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Typically, D2 comes from plants and D3 from animals. Research suggests that D3 may be significantly more effective at raising and maintaining overall vitamin D levels than D2, so a supplement with this form may help in maintaining vitamin D levels in the body.
- Finally, daily exercise: Research has proved that people engaging in regular physical activity like walking, jogging, cycling have better Vitamin D levels.
One last thing, sunbathing for a prolonged time can risk sunburn –which can be very harmful so do be careful with that and if you want to protect your skin particularly on those forgotten zones such as the shoulder area, wearing a Homebody T shirt will mean you have a 50+ UPF (tested by British standards)
Enjoy the sunshine and that vitamin D - Beverley