In the spirit of summer – which is next week by the way – we’re shining a light on vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin”. Arguably one of the most downplayed vitamins when it comes to its myriad of benefits, it plays an integral role in keeping the body healthy.
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How to get vitamin D
Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. However, with our harsh sun In Australia and New Zealand, you might be surprised to learn we aren’t getting enough sun exposure due to over-protecting ourselves with sunscreen. Combined with the nature of modern life (less time outside) and restrictive diets that exclude fatty fish and dairy products, which are rich sources of vitamin D, we have an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency.
We tend to over-protect over this side of the world, which can impact vitamin D absorption.
If you find out you are deficient or lacking in vitamin D intake, there are a few key ways you can up your daily dosage—starting with getting around 20 minutes of sunlight several times a week. In addition to the sun, you can obtain vitamin D from a few food sources, like fatty fish (including salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines) and mushrooms (some of which are exposed to ultraviolet light). Foods like milk, orange juice, yogurt, and breakfast cereals can also be fortified with vitamin D. Supplementation is the most convenient and effective way to ensure you’re meeting all your vitamin D requirements.
Vitally’s vitamin D is derived from wool oil (lanolin) and provides the form of Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) that is easily absorbed by your body.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may include:
- Regular sickness or infection
- Bone and back pain
- Low mood
- Impaired wound healing
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
Below we round-up some of the main benefits of this multi-tasking vitamin…
Strengthens bones and muscles
Vitamin D’s main benefit is its effects on bone density and growth. Sufficient vitamin D intake helps to prevent bones (and teeth) from becoming brittle due to its role in the regulation of calcium levels in the blood. Along with its bone-building abilities, vitamin D is also influential in strengthening muscles. Lack of vitamin D in the body can increase the risk of having weak muscles, which in turn increases the risk of falls. For this reason, it’s especially important with age to ensure adequate vitamin D consumption.
Research has established a link between vitamin D deficiency and increased autoimmunity (where the body attacks itself) as well as an increased susceptibility to infection.
Improves mental health
Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is not good news for our mental health because it is a key nutrient for the nervous and immune systems, with low levels being linked to depression. The sun can brighten up your mood, and so can vitamin D. According to a 2017 review article in the journal Neuropsychology, researchers found “a significant relationship between depression and vitamin D deficiency.”
Struggling between the sheets? Among other benefits, Vitamin D impacts your sex hormones and mood. If you tend to feel friskier in the warmer months, there’s a good reason for it – you’re probably getting more vitamin D than in winter. Vitamin D deficiency can cause low oestrogen in women and likewise testosterone in men, which is bad news for your libido. Research has found increasing your vitamin D stores may boost testosterone too.
Improved skin health
Vitamin D2 and D3 are said to be the most effective when it comes to skin health. Their antioxidant capabilities prevent skin damage and premature ageing when taken as a supplement, and vitamin d also aids in cell repair and growth.