Sunshine and Vitamin D

Hello everyone. Welcome to my first blog! I am very excited as I have so much to share with you throughout my blogging journey. So here goes.

I really enjoy this time of year with lighter nights, sunshine, bright blue skies and the harmonious sounds of birds tweeting away. However, how many of us truly take advantage of this glorious weather when the opportunity arises? A subject I’d like to blog today is on Vitamin D – you guessed it! A shocking number of people in the UK are deficient in Vitamin D and one of the main reasons being that we are not getting outdoors enough. So it doesn’t surprise me when I often get asked the question ‘What vitamin D foods or supplements should I be taking to help with my health issues – the obvious ones been poor bone density, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis? My immediate response is simple “Mother Nature gave us the sun as a natural way to get vitamin D. Just 15-20 minutes of direct sunlight (unfiltered by sunscreen), 3 times a week should be enough to keep you from becoming deficient.

You probably know vitamin D to be a key nutrient for building strong bones and teeth. It is a unique nutrient because it’s requirements can be met not only by food intake, but also from sun exposure. In fact, sunlight exposure can provide most people with their entire vitamin D requirement. However, the elderly and those with dark coloured skin tend to absorb less vitamin D from sunlight exposure than those with light coloured skin. Clearly the message for the former is to increase their sun exposure and soak up the natural vitamin their body so desperately needs.

Obtaining vitamin D from foods or supplements is not so easy as very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. The richest source of vitamin D include oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon, or sardines; fish liver oils; sundried mushrooms i.e. shitake or Portobello and eggs. The good news is Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so when you get plenty of it, some of it gets stored in your fatty tissues and your liver enough to carry you well into the winter.

Although many foods nowadays are ‘fortified with vitamin D’ and are so readily available such as cereals, breads, margarine, soy, milk, and orange juice, my question is ‘Which source of vitamin D would your body thank you for fortified or natural?’ I know which one I favour! So let’s make the most of our summer with happy and healthier days ahead…come rain or shine.

The role of vitamin D and why we need it

• To regulate how much calcium you absorb from your food
• Reduce heart disease risk
• Decrease risk of metabolic syndrome (a condition that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes)
• Prevent bone fractures and decrease risk of osteoporosis
• Reduce risk of developing diabetes
• Boost mood to ward off the blues (seasonal affective disorder)
• Fight against cold and flu
• Maintain calcium and phosphorus levels
• Fight cancer – especially prostate, colon, ovarian and breast
• Enhance ability to lose weight

Your nutritionist,
Shakela

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