Winter is rolling in and it is now time to focus on one important vitamin - vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin. Getting healthy levels of vitamin D is difficult in meagre sunlight, especially if you have dark skin. Usually we don’t have to worry about it in summer as vitamin D can be synthesized in the skin in response to sun’s ultraviolet rays by converting subcutaneous cholesterol to vitamin D.
Vitamin D is vital for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, hence important for bone and teeth health. It protects against muscle weakness, breast and colon cancer, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, enhances immunity, regulates heartbeat, promotes thyroid function and blood clotting.
According to a data published by public health England, more than one in five people have vitamin D deficiency. Pregnant women, children below the age of five, elderly people and people with dark skin are particularly at risk. Vitamin D deficiency does not always show obvious symptoms. But deficiency may lead to serious health conditions like multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, auto immune diseases, Type 1 diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s, schizophrenia, depression, autism, asthma and food allergy. It is a good idea to check your vitamin D levels even if you are not in the risk group to see if you may need to consider taking supplements.
Adequate level of vitamin D is dependent hugely on the exposure to sunshine as it is difficult to get the recommended amount from food alone. Oily fishes like salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, fish liver oils, cheese, egg, beef liver and fortified foods are good source of vitamin D. Getting out several times around noon should provide enough exposure to sunshine to make adequate vitamin D.