Vitamin D

Welcome to the first news article from FoodKnowledge.co.uk

 

For our initiation into the ‘blogging’ world we have decided to talk about a very topical vitamin… Vitamin D. 

 

We understand that to most people vitamin D just follows after vitamins A, B and C, but to us, and in turn to you, vitamin D is a very special and influential part of our health and wellbeing. 

 

As the Christmas adverts trickle onto our TV and the clocks go back we begin to realise how little daylight we actually get to see. For those of us who are brave enough to venture out in the rain, we are usually covered up head to toe to try to keep warm anyway… 

 

 

So lets explore this vitamin and shed some sunlight onto the sunshine nutrient! 

 

Back to basics 

 

Vitamin D exists in two forms D and D₃¹. D is from plants and D from animals (this is the most natural form)¹.

 

Vitamin D is often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ this is because when humans are exposed to ultraviolet B light (UVB) like the sun, the skin synthesises vitamin D in the form of D3¹. This is the single most natural and common way for humans to get vitamin D into their bodies. However, as previously mentioned the exposure to the sunlight can be challenging, especially in the winter months… 

 

But the question is WHY do we need vitamin D and what does it do in the body? Here are just some of the answers…

 

1. The most common awareness of the need for vitamin D is for bone health, and was identified as a use to prevent the childhood bone disease of Rickets. A common myth is that Vitamin D forces calcium to be absorbed, however more accurately vitamin D helps calcium levels to be regulated, therefore allowing calcium absorption to be possible if the body requires it ¹. But if you don’t have Rickets or Osteoporosis could you still be deficient in vitamin D? 

 

 2. Vitamin D is involved in gene expression ²⁄ ²b. This is perhaps the most complex role of vitamin D in the body. It means that vitamin D has a role to play in every single cell in your body and therefore an impact on each of your organs. So if you do not have enough vitamin D, are your cells and organs getting what they need? 

 

3. Vitamin D is essential for the secretion of insulin ¹, (the hormone which controls your blood glucose levels, and is linked to insulin resistance and subsequent diabetes). Therefore if your vitamin D levels are low are you at an increased risk of developing diabetes? Or are you already diabetic and therefore needing to aid the secretion of insulin as best you can? 

 

4. The big C- Cancer and vitamin D. Research into the link between vitamin D deficiency and cancer is rapidly increasing, but what we already know is that the rates of many cancers are increased in areas of the world with limited sunlight ³. Breast cancer research has shown links between vitamin D levels and risk reduction⁴.

 

5. Vitamin D has been shown to help boost your mood and in turn been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) ⁵. 

 

6. Interestingly, vitamin D has also been linked to chronic immune problems . But if, to your knowledge, your immune system is working well, does this mean you are not vitamin D deficient? 

 

Understanding what this means…

 

The above links to Vitamin D and health are not the only known effects, there are many more, and the important thing to remember is that being deficient in vitamin D does not mean you will have all, or even any of these conditions. 

 

But if you are deficient in vitamin D, over time you may be at an increased risk of developing conditions in the future. 

 

If you have a family history of any of these conditions, you may want to ensure you are being proactive to try to avoid you yourself suffering from them. 

 

Lets take a look at the levels of vitamin D the body requires and how we can ensure we are reaching them…

 

Both the UK and the USA set their guidelines for vitamin D intake with the consideration of its role in bone health, and not its implications on many other diseases, therefore its is considered amongst professionals and researchers that the levels are set too low

 

The UK recommended nutrient intake (RNI) for vitamin D for the elderly is 400 iu (the units of measurement), babies 8.5 iu and young children 7iu.

 

Doctors suggest that if serum (in the blood) vitamin D levels are found at lower than the base line of  30nmols/L sunlight UVB intake should be increased to 5-30 minutes of sunlight between 10am and 3pm at least twice a week , but as we know to get enough sunlight, daily, is hard in the winter months, plus there is caution to prevent burning as  SPF factors are thought to prevent sufficient absorption .

 

So what do we do? 

 

Ensuring your vitamin D levels are adequate requires an evaluation of your lifestyle with consideration to your sunlight exposure and possibly a subsequent preliminary blood test from your doctor.

 

Following your results, it may be useful to introduce vitamin D fortified foods such as egg yolks as well as try to maximise the intake from the flesh of oily fish and fish liver (however the amount found naturally in food is marginal). 

 

The most successful way of raising your serum vitamin D levels other than through sunlight is through supplementation. Visiting a Nutritional Therapist can help you to decide whether you need to supplement your vitamin D and if so which brand and at what level might be useful for you individually, because we are all different.  

 

To learn more about how vitamin D deficiency could be impacting you please contact Food Knowledge at info@foodknowledge.co.uk 

or call us on 07887832226 

to arrange a consultation. 

 

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References 

 1. Zhang, R., Naughton, D., (2010). Vitamin in health and disease: current perspectives. Nutrition Journal. 9 (65).

 

2. Hart, G., (2010). Vitamin D and ageing related disorders. The Nutrition Practitioner

 

2b.  Darwish, H., DeLuca, H., (1993). Vitamin D-regulated gene expression.       Critical Review of Eukaryot Gene Expression. (2). 89-116

 

3. Grant, B., (2011). The impact of improving vitamin D levels-health and financial outcomes. Sunlight, Nutrition and health Research Centre

 

4. Baggerly, C., Garland, C., (2011). Vitamin D breast cancer prevention. 

 

5. Murphey, P., Wagner, L., (2008). Vitamin D and mod disorders among women: an interview review. Journal of Midwifery womens’ Health. 53 (5). 440-446.

 

6. Heaney, R., Holick, M., (2011). Why the IOM recommendations for vitamin D are deficient. Journal of Bone Resource. 26 (3). 455-457. 

 

7. Strengthening Knowledge and Understanding of Dietary Supplements, (2011). Office of Dietary Supplements National Institutes of Health.

 

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