For those who may be in the sunshine this afternoon like myself whilst i’m writing this – the weather is beautiful and sure is giving me a nice glow! This is the type of weather we’ve all been waiting for!
Not only because it gives us a glow, makes us go browner (or red!) and just generally makes people in the world seem friendlier and a nicer place to live in, the sunshine has many benefits!
It’s one of our providers of vitamin D for starters. Even though it’s called vitamin D, it is not strictly a vitamin – it is in fact a hormone.
We only need dietary sources of vitamin D when there is not enough sunlight – so for western countries this is quite a high percentage of the time! Unfortunately for vegetarians and vegans, there are no sources of active vitamin D within the food choices you have available to you.
Oily fish, butter, liver and Eggs are the richest sources of vitamin D so if you rarely eat any of these foods, chances are your vitamin D levels are low (if you don’t get out in the sunshine much either!)
Vitamin D is actually a fat soluble vitamin! Meaning you need to be eating fats in your diet in order to digest it. That’s why people who follow low fat diets, may have limited or poor absorption of this crucial hormone.
So, what is the main role of vitamin D?
It actually controls calcium homeostasis (balance). The Parathyroid hormone is one which affects the release of calcium from the bones – meaning if you’re not getting enough vitamin D levels, there could be an excess of Calcium being leached from your bones (and long term could cause osteoporosis!)
Vitamin D also ‘matures’ our immune cells! Meaning it’s needed not only for bone health but immune health!
Preventing those winter colds and flus – vitamin D is well needed within the body!
Taking vitamin D whilst breast feeding has also been shown to help your infant increase their bone mineral density. Our bone mineral density is set in stone by our early 20’s, so making sure to get good levels of vitamin D whilst young is extremely important! Especially for those girls, if osteoporosis is rife through the family!
So, what are some common signs and symptoms of deficiency?
- Poor immunity and immune dysfunction
- Osteoporosis, softening of bones and teeth.
- Cramps and diarrhoea.