Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced in our skin in response to sunlight. It is an essential vitamin that helps to regulate calcium in our bodies and so is vital for good bone health and preventing osteoporosis. Research over the past few years has also shown some evidence that vitamin D plays a role in our immune response and how susceptible we are to infection. Coming into Winter, let’s take a look at some FAQs around this interesting vitamin.
1. What are the signs of deficiency of vitamin D in adults?
- Aches and pains
- Frequent infections
- Reduced mental health
- Bone or muscle pain or weakness
- Stress fractures, loss of bone density and osteoporosis.
The Ministry of Health predicts that around 32% of us are deficient or have levels below those recommended, so if you are worried, ask your doctor for a blood test.
2. How do I correct a deficiency?
Levels can be boosted in the body by exposure to sunlight, eating foods rich in vitamin D and supplementing. Choose oily fish, milk and dairy, eggs and liver or ask your pharmacist about taking a supplement.
3. What is sensible sun exposure?
The amount of sunlight needed to make vitamin D depends on UV radiation levels, skin type and lifestyle. Between May and August (or when the UV index falls below 3), a daily walk or other outdoor activity in the hours around noon is recommended. Try to expose your face, arms and legs (as the temperature allows) for up to 30-minutes.
4. How else can I boost my immunity?
Eating a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds is a great basis for a healthy immune system. Spending time outdoors in the fresh air takes you away from recycled, heated air and also helps to replenish your vitamin D stores.