WHAT IS VITAMIN D?
Ok, so lets start with the very basics what is vitamin D? Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient, which is an essential nutrient for the human bodies survival. This means it dissolves in fat and is stored in the body. There are two types of vitamin D: Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. Vitamin D is a unique vitamin, it works differently to other vitamins, when your body gets its vitamin D, it turns vitamin D into a hormone. This hormone is sometimes called “activated vitamin D” or “calcitriol.” (1)
Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D is produced by the human body when it has been exposed to the sun, and through consuming foods such as; eggs, mushrooms and fish. Vitamin D is the only vitamin the body produces.
Now thats over, understanding what vitamin D is the hardest part. We promise thats as science-y as it’s gets.
WHY SHOULD I SUPPLEMENT WITH VITAMIN D?
Everyone should consider taking vitamin D supplements in autumn and winter, public health advice for the UK recommends. (1.1)
So you know what vitamin D is, your next question is going to be why should I take vitamin D? Vitamin D has many health benefits, from strengthening bones and teeth, to preventing colds. Not only is vitamin D got many benefits but it is crucial for the human body.
Let’s be real, by living in the UK we’re lucky to get a fortnight of sun in a year. Sun is one of the main sources for the body to produce vitamin D. The next way the body can produce vitamin D is to rely on your diet, this normally means a high protein diet. So the last way the body can produce vitamin D is by supplements. This is why supplementing with vitamin D is so important. It is essential for people living in areas of the world who don’t receive as much sunlight like the UK. Its essential for those who can’t produce vitamin D through dietary and those who eat little protein.
WHAT WILL VITAMIN D DO TO MY BODY?
Like every supplement, you have to understand, track and take care of your body to see the effects of the new supplement you’re taking. Depending on the person and supplement, on average we say to take a supplement for a full 30 days (1 month) to see any real affect on the body. You won’t see many aesthetic/physical changes to your body but you will feel the benefits that vitamin D effects your body with; You’ll feel a change in your general health, immune system will be stronger, less colds and tiredness. You’ll also feel a difference in the strength of your nails, hair, teeth and muscles. See benefits below
VITAMIN D BENEFITS
Vitamin D has been in the media lately for its cold and flu prevention benefits. Like we’ve said above vitamin D is essential for the human body, and has many health benefits specifically for keeping bones strong and healthy. Heres a list of the benefits from supplementing with vitamin D:
- Maintain the health of bones, teeth, nails and hair
- Support the health of the immune system, includes brain and nervous system
- Support lung function and cardiovascular health
- Reduces risk of diabetes
- Reduces risk of cancer
- Reduced risk of flu up to 40% (2)
Researchers have pointed out that increasing levels of vitamin D3 among the general population could prevent chronic diseases that claim nearly one million lives throughout the world each year. (3)
HOW MUCH VITAMIN D DO I NEED?
Children from the age of one year and adults need 400–800 IU, or 10–20 micrograms of vitamin D a day (4). It is suggested that population groups at risk of vitamin D deficiency (Like we’ve talked about above those with minimal exposure to sunshine and small protein intake) should take 5000 IU of vitamin D everyday.
Now, an extensive review of the evidence, carried out by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), suggests everyone over the age of one needs to consume 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day in order to protect bone and muscle health. (4.1) (4.2)
WHAT IS A VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY?
Many people are deficient in Vitamin D, this could be due to not getting enough sunlight or Vitamin D in rich foods. As the sun is a major source of Vitamin D this means that countries that do not experience much sunlight (e.g UK) will need to get their Vitamin D through food or supplements.
The people who are most likely to get vitamin D deficiency is;
- Cold climates (lack of sunshine)
- Spending a lot of time indoors (working in office all day)
- Living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
- Having darker skin
- Low protein diet
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE A VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY?
There are a few signs to look out for if you think your vitamin D deficient. Heres a list of vitamin D deficiency symptoms:
- Low immunity
- Weight gain
- Bone softening (low bone density) or fractures
- Fatigue and generalised weakness
- Muscle cramps and weakness
- Joint pain (most noticeable in the back and knees)
- Blood sugar issues
- Low calcium levels in the blood
- Mood changes and irritability
- Depression (5)
Supplementing with vitamin D will reduce the effects of vitamin D deficiency.