After watching a recent TV programme about Vitamin D and its benefits I thought I would highlight the importance of this vitamin. Most of us will get enough of this vitamin from sun light and various food sources. The body makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun, however we are warned about the serious consequences of over exposure. Vitamin D can be found in various foods, so it is important in a healthy diet you ensure you are eating enough of the following:
Fatty fish, such as salmon or tuna. Beef, liver, cheese and mushrooms are also a great source of Vitamin D. Some breakfast cereals, yogurts and oranges juices are also enhanced by adding this vitamin to them, so its worth checking the labels.
So why do we need vitamin D? It is very important for the immune system to help fight off bacteria and viruses. It also works together with calcium to help build healthy bones, and to prevent osteoporosis in older adults. However recently there has been an increase in rickets in young children due to lack of vitamin D which also helps to absorb calcium into the body, this results in soft, brittle and deformed bones.
The following people may not be getting enough vitamin D naturally, so if you fall into any of these categories it may be worth checking you intake or considering a supplement. Older adults as their skin do not absorb the vitamin as efficiently as they did when young. People with darker skin because their skin has less ability to produce vitamin D from the sun. Also people with Crohns disease or celiac desease, as they cannot handle fat properly, and vitamin D needs fat to be absorbed. Lastly obese people because their body fat attaches itself to their vitamin D and prevents it from getting into the blood.
It is worth noting there are risks to taking in Vitamin D in excess, this can cause nausea, weight loss, confusion, constipation, and can affect the kidney function, but this is in very extreme cases.
I do myself now take Vitamin D supplements, in addition to plenty of fish and other foods sources, as i live a very active life and rely on the strength of my bones and muscles. Obviously that was my decision and you have to decide on your own situation as to whether you feel you are absorbing enough. A healthy balanced diet is the key and sunshine in safe, moderate conditions.