Vitamin D - why you need it and where to find it

Vitamin D is actually a pre-hormone that's produced in your skin in response to direct sunlight. This makes it a very important building block towards a healthier you.

How to get your vitamin D

  • Vitamin D from sunlight - only direct unprotected sunlight (UV-B) on the skin can produce vitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D
  • The best dietary sources of vitamin D3 are salmon, mackerel and other oily fish, as well as functional foods fortified with vitamin D such as milk,cheeses, juices,cereals and baby food. With no exposure to sunlight, one would need to drink about 10 glasses of vitamin D-enriched milk in order to obtain the minimum daily requirement.
  • Supplements - new research indicates that daily D3 intake should range from 1 000 I.U. for infants to 2 000 for children / young adults and upwards from 4 000 - 10 000 I.U.'s for adults.
  • Who is at risk

    People working and playing indoors, covering up with clothes or sunscreen when outside or who resides at a high latitude will not get sufficient exposure to natural sunlight.

    Seniors are at greater risk due to lack of mobility and skin that is less responsive to UV-B.

    People with darker skins - light skin allows deeper penetration by UV-B rays.

    Babies who are only breastfed - breastfeeding will result in vitamin D deficiency in the baby if the mother fails to ensure her own levels are high enough to provide for her baby’s needs. When the mother is deficient, the breast-fed child will be deficient due to the low vitamin D content of the mother’s breast milk.

    People who are obese - fat-soluble vitamin D may get trapped in fat tissue, preventing it to be metabolised and utilised by the body.

    People with dietary restrictions.

    What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

    Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency could be described as chronic pain, weak bones, frequent infections, depression, etc., but the same will not be true for everyone who is deficient.

    Because the possible effects of vitamin D deficiency are wide-ranging and can manifest in the body in any number of ways, there are no specific associated symptoms. However, there are many associated health conditions.

    Vitamin D3 has an impact on many health conditions such as:

    Vitamin D has been shown to block cancer growth and spread

    Helps sustain a healthy skeletal system

    Protects against auto-immune diseases

    Promotes absorption of calcium and phosphorous in the intestines

    Can also inhibit parathyroid hormone secretion

    Protects and maintains healthy brain function

    Prevents post menopausal or corticosteroid induced osteoporosis

    There is increasing evidence that vitamin D reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and stroke

    Together, vitamin D and calcium can lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes by up to one-third

    High vitamin D and calcium levels lower fasting blood glucose levels

    Vitamin D may reduce the risk of the common cold by strengthening the body’s immune system

    Several studies have found a link between vitamin D and better cognitive function

    Vitamin D may lower the risk of falls and fractures by increasing calcium levels, neuromuscular control, and muscle strength

    During pregnancy Vitamin D strengthens the body’s immune system and protects the mother from infection

    If you do not get enough sun exposure or supplement with vitamin D, odds are you are vitamin D deficient.The only way to know for sure is to have your blood vitamin D levels tested

    For more researched information on vitamin D go to vitamin D council or The Office of Dietary Supplements

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