The importance of vitamin D was highlighted last year by the announcement by Public Health England that everyone should supplement with 10 micrograms of Vitamin D daily.
Vitamin D is one of the most intensely studied nutrients, but recommended levels between countries and health organisations vary. The best food sources of vitamin D are salmon and sardines – but our skin cells can also make vitamin D from sunlight. In the UK, where frankly sun is not guaranteed even in the summer, we are certainly unable to get vitamin D from sunlight between October to April when the sun is too low in the sky. Our ability to get vitamin D from the sun also comes down to our skin tone. Paler and more English skin tones, like myself, are able to absorb more vitamin D from sunlight. However, the other Health Boost member Val, who is more Mediterranean in skin tone, will genetically have fewer receptors in her skin and will therefore be unable to make as much vitamin D.
Why is vitamin D so important?
Vitamin D is important for bone health. A deficiency in children can lead to rickets and in adults to osteomalacia. Vitamin D acts to increase calcium in your bloodstream, so you also need adequate levels of calcium to help your bones.
Vitamin D helps to mature our white blood cells – our first line of defence in most types of infection. In particular there has been research that links low vitamin D levels with an increase in respiratory infections or asthma attacks.
Blood sugar control
There seems to be a link between high blood sugar and diabetes in people with low levels of vitamin D. Although the research is not entirely consistent, there does seems to be some sort of correlation.
In the UK your doctor will test your vitamin D level for free once a year. However you can also get yourself tested privately if you don’t have time to go to the doctors. Better You do an at home finger prick test for £28 which is also suitable for children and babies and you will receive a complimentary bottle of vitamin D spray at a level that is relevant to your results. https://betteryou.com/vitamin-d-testing-service
Matelijan G (2015) The World’s Healthiest Foods
Public Health England (2016) ‘PHE is advising that 10 micrograms of vitamin D are needed daily to help keep healthy bones, teeth and muscles.’ Available at www.gov.uk
Hollams EM, Teo SM, Kusel M, Holt BJ, Holt KE, Inouye M, De Klerk NH, Zhang G, Sly PD, Hart PH, Holt PG. Vitamin D over the first decade and susceptibility to childhood allergy and asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Oct 7 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.07.032
Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Vitamin D and health. 2016. www.sacn.gov.uk.