Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins needed by the body. Following a low-fat diet can mean that the absorption of vitamin D from the foods we eat is not optimal.

Vitamin D is also often called the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced in our skin when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Interestingly, despite its name, vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin. Most vitamins act as cofactors for enzymes. Conversely, vitamin D is rather a prohormone because it is converted in the body into a hormone called calcitriol with the help of the kidneys. The hormone calcitriol (also called the active form of vitamin D) helps regulate the amounts of calcium and phosphorus in the body and supports the amount of calcium stored in the bones, helping to maintain bone health. It does this by increasing the production of calcium transport proteins in the gut, which helps increase the absorption of calcium from the food we eat.

Useful tip:

When taking a vitamin D supplement, consuming it with a meal that contains good fats such as avocado or fatty fish will ensure even better absorption.

Can our body produce vitamin D?

Yes, our bodies produce vitamin D when the sun’s rays hit our skin. While getting enough sun is important for maintaining vitamin D levels in the body, too much sun can be dangerous.

Applying sunscreen and wearing protective clothing can help prevent overexposure to the sun; however, less vitamin D will be produced. Exposing your arms and legs or hands, arms and face to 5-10 minutes of sunlight two to three times a week will ensure that your skin is protected but able to produce the vitamin D your body needs.3

Conversely, in winter or on cloudy days, the ultraviolet rays of the sun to which the skin is exposed are not strong enough to stimulate the production of all the vitamin D that our body needs.

Eating foods rich in vitamin D and supplements may help. In fact, the Scientific Advice on Nutrition (SACN) recommends that between September and April in South Africa, everyone over 5 should take a daily vitamin D supplement containing 10 micrograms (or 400 IU) of vitamin D.

If your complexion is darker, the natural melanin content in your skin can also lead to less vitamin D production from the sun. Additionally, spending long hours in the office or working at night can make you more vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency, which in turn can affect bone health and the immune system.

Can we get vitamin D food?

Absolutely, but food options are quite limited, especially if a diet based on plants follows. Tofu and mushrooms are great vegan options. Beef liver, egg yolks, cheese, and oily fish are non-vegan options. Fortified foods can be a convenient way to make sure you are getting more vitamin D in your diet as well. Look for foods like soy milk that may be fortified with vitamin D next time you shop for groceries. Why do we need it?

Most of us know that vitamin D is important for healthy bones and teeth. This is because it helps our body absorb calcium, but it is also essential for the proper functioning of the immune system.

There are some studies that suggest that having lower levels of vitamin D can make the immune system less able to fight germs effectively.

What is the difference between Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3? Vitamin D is normally supplied in two different forms: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is found mainly in mushrooms or plant foods. Vitamin D3 is of the type synthesized by ultraviolet rays and is found in egg yolks or oily fish.

Vitamin D3 tends to be the preferred form as it is more potent and bioavailable, so it works faster in your body. Although Vitamin D2 is the least potent and least bioavailable form of Vitamin D, it has the advantage of being a vegetarian. The latest innovations mean that seaweed-based forms of vitamin D3 are now available through your favorite supplement or online store for those on a plant-based diet. How Much Vitamin D Do We Need?

The amount you need can depend on the circulating levels of vitamin D in your body. Ideally, vitamin D levels should be at least 25 nmol / L.8 You can ask your doctor to test your levels; It’s a simple blood test.

The RDA for vitamin D in the winter months is 10 µg per day, but up to 75 µg per day is considered the maximum level of vitamin D in a dietary supplement according to EFSA, CRNUK, HFMA and PGAB. Always follow your doctor’s advice.

Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

  • Older people are at risk of a suboptimal state or deficiency of vitamin D, mainly because aged skin can lose its efficiency in producing vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Older people are also less able to convert vitamin D to its active form.
  • People with darker skin are at risk due to the natural content of melanin in their skin, which can absorb far more ultraviolet rays. Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, people who don’t tolerate fatty foods well or who follow a low-fat lifestyle may find it difficult to absorb enough vitamin D from food.
  • Obese people tend to be at risk for vitamin D deficiency, as excess body fat can hold some vitamin D and reduce circulation. Is taking a vitamin D supplement enough to support my immune system?

Although the immune system needs vitamin D to function normally, it also depends on other nutrients and environmental factors. In addition to taking a vitamin D supplement, make sure you eat a varied and well-balanced diet and incorporate exercise into your daily routine. These are also essential for your immune system to function.

The Natural Supplements Co