Vitamin D is essential for the body, as it helps absorb calcium and promotes bone growth. Too little and it can cause soft, fragile bones. But it also has other important functions.
It’s also been found to help improve fighting off depression, heart disease, cancer and fatigue, as well as many other things.
What’s more, some evidence also suggests that getting enough vitamin D could enhance weight loss and decrease body fat.
Why vitamin D is so important for your body
There are two sources of Vitamin D. Vitamin D2, which is found in food sources and supplements and vitamin D3 which is synthesised from ultraviolet B light (UVB) in the skin of humans.
We need it because once it becomes active within the body it aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, amongst other actions, and is therefore responsible for general bone health.
If you don’t have enough of it, studies reflect that low serum levels of vitamin D could predispose people to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancers, multiple sclerosis, weakness, muscle pain and cardiovascular disease.
Unfortunately, nearly 50% of people worldwide are low in vitamin D – even in Australia! So make sure you check with your doctor that your levels are adequate.
How to get vitamin D
The best way to boost your vitamin D levels is through sunlight – make sure to use sun lotion with a SPF if you are planning to spend more time in the sun.
- You can also increase your levels:
- Consuming fatty fish and seafood
- Eating more egg yolks
- Including more mushrooms in your diet
- Taking a supplement
How do we get our Vitamin D in Australia?
Approximately 90-100% of our requirements are obtained from the sun. This percentage is so high because vitamin D is not naturally plentiful in food.
The few natural sources are oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring and oils from fish, including cod liver oil. In Australia there is the mandatory fortification of margarine.
Have a look at some Healthy Mummy recipes using fish here.
Apparently, you can store enough vitamin D for a period of time so fortunately, if you get enough sun exposure in the summer, your body will make and store enough vitamin D to get you through the winter.
Vitamin D deficiency linked to weight gain
A recent study looked at over 200 overweight and obese women who were dieting over a period of 12 months. Half of the women received a vitamin d supplement while the others didn’t.
Researchers found that women who took the supplement were more likely to have bigger weight losses.
The role of vitamin D in adults over 65
Older adults are at risk for lower levels of vitamin D and lower levels of it can drastically impact a person’s physical and mental well-being.
Studies have found that older adults with a vitamin D deficiency may experience cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, hypertension and diabetes.
Who is at risk of deficiency?
Some people may not be able to access the sun exposure required to help them maintain their vitamin D levels. These groups may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. They include:
- Naturally dark-skinned people – who need more UV exposure to produce adequate levels of vitamin D as the pigment in their skin reduces UV penetration
- People who cover their skin for religious or cultural reasons
- The elderly and people who are housebound or in institutional care
- Babies and infants of vitamin D deficient mothers especially breastfed babies
- Patients with osteoporosis.
People in these groups should consult their doctor for advice on whether they need to take a vitamin D supplement.
The Healthy Mummy Smoothie range and vitamin D
So for us Healthy Mummies, especially those which are breastfeeding take note that the new range of Healthy Mummy Smoothie mix has 25% of your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin D per serve.
This is fantastic as breastfed babies rely heavily on the vitamin D status of their mother. And if you are drinking 2 serves per day that is 50%! Go Healthy Mummy!