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  • Writer's pictureRegina Toop

Vitamin D, the powerhouse of nutrient


How much do I need, why and where can I get it from?


Vitamin D deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in Western societies. Vitamin D3 is needed for many bodily functions:

  • prevents depression and anxiety, helps with chronic fatigue

  • reduces inflammation and autoimmune responses

  • promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the gut that plays an important role in modifying risk of Type 2 Diabetes

  • helps bone mineralisation therefore keeps bones strong

  • modulates cell growth

  • due to its role in calcium absorption it prevents muscle spasms and cramps

  • strengthens immunity (PMC6121423)


Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin


Best natural sources of Vitamin D



Our amazing body can synthetize Vitamin D directly from sunlight. Historically, humans spent a lot more time outside in the sunshine, we are not so good at that nowadays. Very few food sources contain Vitamin D (except fatty fish, liver, eggs, mushroom and fortified foods). Even if your diet contains these food sources, it's likely that you are deficient especially if you are experiencing fatigue, lethargy, depression or getting sick regularly. Of course the best way to go about finding out whether you need supplementing Vitamin D is through testing which your health professional/GP can help you with.


#sunshine - spend as much time as possible outdoors especially between May and October when the sun is strong enough for us to synthetize Vitamin D


#fatty fish - include fishes such as salmon, mackerel and sardines at least twice a week


#mushroom - ergocalciferol (D2) is found in plant foods, namely some mushroom. Small amount of Vitamin D2 can be synthetized in mushrooms by exposure to naturally occurring UV light during growing or processing


#eggs - from pasture-raised chicken those roaming outside in the sunlight


#some fortified foods - don't be scared of the word 'fortified', it means 'added'




How much is the safe amount?


Research shows that the human body prefers to utilise Vitamin D3 over D2.

The standard dosage of Vitamin D3 supplementation is 1.000-2.000IU (international unit), the safe upper limit is 4.000IU (100 micrograms) per day.

Studies also show that people with darker skin need more Vitamin D due to higher melanin content in the skin therefore the inability to produce as much Vitamin D. If you have darker skin, it is recommended to get your Vitamin D levels checked.


Summary


The #foodfirst approach might not be enough when it comes to Vitamin D levels or

  • if you live in the UK or far from the equator where the sun exposure is reduced

  • if you live in polluted areas

  • if your diet doesn't contain enough oily fish and Vitamin D-rich food sources

  • if you are over 65

  • if your immune system is a bit worn down

Get your levels checked and supplement within the safe bracket of 1.000-4.000IU/day.


References


R Jorde1, M Sneve, Y Figenschau, J Svartberg, K Waterloo. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese subjects: randomized double blind trial https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18793245/


Does Vitamin D Have a Role in Diabetes? Tahani et. al. 2022 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9671203/


Beata M. Gruber-Bzura, 2018. Vitamin D and Influenza—Prevention or Therapy? doi: 10.3390/ijms19082419


F Libon, E Cavalier, A F Nikkels, 2013 Skin color is relevant to vitamin D synthesis, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24134867/



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