A common question that many of our lovely Lily & Loaf customers ask is ‘What is Vitamin D?’.
Known as the Sunshine Vitamin, your body produces Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight.It serves several essential functions which can help boost your immune system and aid the development of healthy bones and teeth.
A Vitamin D deficiency can lead to some health complications, including bone conditions like Rickets, Osteomalacia and Osteoporosis.
Although your body produces most of its own Vitamin D, there are certain foods and natural supplements you can take to top-up any shortfalls.
In this blog, we take a closer look at what is Vitamin D, and more importantly, what it does.
WHAT DOES VITAMIN D DO?Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that plays a number of essential roles within your body.
Its primary function is to regulate how your body absorbs Calcium and Phosphorous, two key minerals that aid the normal, healthy development of bones and teeth.
However, it also helps facilitate good immune system function, which helps improve your body’s resistance to infection, illness and disease.
Alongside its primary function, Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis – a debilitating condition which attacks the brain and nervous system – and can also help improve your circulation and reduce the risk of heart disease.
And because of its immune-boosting properties, Vitamin D helps reduce your chances of catching flu and other viral infections.
There is evidence to suggest that Vitamin D plays a vital role in improving mental health and easing the symptoms of depression by regulating the hormones that affect our mood.
It can also be useful when it comes to weight management. Studies have found that people taking
daily Calcium and Vitamin D supplements were able to achieve and maintain a healthy weight more effectively than those who didn’t. It’s thought that this is because additional Calcium and Vitamin D can help suppress appetite.
HOW TO GET VITAMIN DThe primary way to get Vitamin D is through spending time outdoors, in the sunshine.
Your body’s natural response to being exposed to sunshine is to produce Vitamin D, which is then absorbed by the cells under your skin.
However, if you are a sun-worshipper, you should take the usual precautions – wear sun cream, cover your skin when walking around and don’t go out during the hottest part of the day – as getting too much sun can lead to a host of skin and health problems.
Few foods contain natural Vitamin D, so many are fortified with additional Vitamin D (along with Calcium, Phosphorus and other minerals) to help you get your recommended daily allowance.
Foods which contain Vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon and sardines, eggs, shellfish (especially prawns and shrimp) and milk. You can also get milk, yoghurt, cereal and fruit juice that has been fortified.
However, it can be hard to get enough Vitamin D each day through your diet and exposure to the sun, particularly in winter, so taking a natural Vitamin D supplement can help top up any shortfall.
HOW MUCH VITAMIN D PER DAY?Everyone, no matter how old, needs a daily intake of Vitamin D.
Babies should get around 8.5 to 10 micrograms of Vitamin D every day until they are a year old. After that, toddlers, children and adults should aim to get at least ten micrograms of Vitamin D a day.
Between late March and early October, most people should be able to get the Vitamin D they need from natural sunlight.
If you don’t spend much time outdoors, wear clothes that cover up most of your skin, or have darker skin, you may not be getting the Vitamin D you need from sunlight exposure. In these cases, supplements can help top-up any shortfall.
If you don’t get enough Vitamin D daily, it can lead to a deficiency which can have several longer-term health implications.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a loss of bone density. This can result in soft or fragile bones and increase your risk of fractures, which can have serious consequences later in life.
In children, severe Vitamin D deficiency can cause Rickets, a rare condition that causes bones to become soft and bend.
In adults, lack of Vitamin D can lead to the onset of conditions like Osteoporosis, which causes brittle bones, and Osteomalacia, which creates weak bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness.
High blood pressure, diabetes and some autoimmune conditions can also result from Vitamin D deficiency.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I TAKE TOO MUCH VITAMIN D?Getting too much Vitamin D from your diet or supplements can lead to health problems.
Research suggests that taking more than 100 micrograms of Vitamin D a day can be harmful.
Elderly adults, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children aged 11 to 17 years are most at risk from taking too much Vitamin D.
Excess Vitamin D from food or supplements can cause Hypercalcaemia, a build-up of Calcium in the body which can’t be adequately absorbed. Over time, this can damage your heart and kidneys and weaken your bones.
Symptoms of getting too much Vitamin D include sickness, vomiting, lack of appetite, fatigue and weight loss, so look out for these signs.
It’s important to remember, though, that you can get too much Vitamin D only from food and supplements, so don’t overdo it. You can’t ‘overdose’ on the natural Vitamin D your body creates through exposure to sunlight. Just make sure you cover up or protect your skin if you’re out in the sun for long periods, to reduce the risk of skin damage.
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