Vitamin D works on a number of levels:
- Channels calcium into bones and teeth, making them strong and healthy
- Reduces the risk of developing cancers and multiple sclerosis
- Helps to manage atopic reactions, asthma and hayfever
- Helps to prevent coughs, colds and flu
- Lowers the risk of developing diabetes and Alzheimer’s
- Deficiency has been linked to depression, fatigue, female hormone imbalance and fibromyalgia
However, despite it being so vital to our health, approximately 60-90% of the UK population is deficient, dependent on where the lower threshold sits. It has recently been increased from 50 nmol/L to 70nmol/L, and may well be increased again as more evidence emerges to support the role of Vitamin D.
The main reason for low Vitamin D is that while it can be consumed through some foods, the best way to maintain healthy levels is for it to be made internally from natural exposure. This process occurs in the skin from direct exposure to UVB rays from sunlight. So the further you live from the equator and the less sunlight you are exposed to, the more likely you are to be deficient. It is important to make sure that you are getting enough vitamin D, so here are three ways to boost your levels:
In the summer time, you can top up your levels with at least 30mins a day of sunlight with your face and arms exposed. Finding a balance between the use of sunscreen to protect against ageing and skin cancer and allowing your body to produce enough vitamin D is essential. Even after a very sunny summer, adequate levels will have only lasted us until about early-Autumn, so come Christmas most of us will already be at a suboptimal level for good health.
2. Food sources
You can eat vitamin D from food sources such as:
- Oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel
- Fortified foods with added Vitamin D - but many of these are highly processed and so are not generally a healthy choice
The type that is produced by the body is D3 (Cholecalciferol), which is a much more usable form than the plant form D2, often found in poor quality supplements or plant food sources. For this reason too, I recommend to the majority of my clients to supplement with D3, especially during the winter but all year round if you are dark skinned (you need more exposure) or fair skinned (you cannot expose too much as you burn), overweight, work indoors, pregnant or breastfeeding.
Take your vitamin D3 supplement with a meal that contains healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, oily fish, etc. as vitamin D is fat soluble molecule meaning you need fat to enable absorption.
Alternatively, VITL Vitamin D3 is formulated with a small amount of sunflower oil to maximise absorption. Get a 30-day supply for just £4.95!