The A to Z on vitamin D
The A to Z on vitamin D
There are two main types of vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is found in animals, including fish and is the kind your skin makes when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D2 comes from plant-based foods, including mushrooms. Studies have found that D3 is more effective.
Why do I need vitamin D?
Vitamin D is important to support a normal immune system function and heart health. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and phosphorus from your diet and use these minerals to keep your bones, teeth and muscles strong.
Why do I need to take vitamin D with a meal?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that it does not dissolve in water and is absorbed best in your bloodstream when paired with high-fat foods. For this reason, it's recommended to take vitamin D supplements with a meal to aid absorption.
How does the sun come into play for vitamin D?
We get most of the vitamin D from sunlight. The sun acts on actives like cholesterol under the skin and helps turn them into vitamin D. We don’t need vitamin D from food or sunlight every day, but with insufficient exposure over a longer period of time, your health might be compromised and you might feel tired, anxious and sick more often. You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight.
In Europe, it’s possible to get enough vitamin D by spending time outside from April until the end of September. But between October and early March we do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight. People only need to be outside for short periods of time, around 20-30 minutes, to top up their levels.
Can I get vitamin D in any other way?
Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, red meat, liver and egg yolks. But the vitamin D content in our daily diet is generally too low to meet our requirements.
What does vitamin D do for my bones?
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. We need these nutrients to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities in children and bone pain in adults.
What are the signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include muscle weakness, pain, bone pain, fatigue and depression.
What happens if I take too much vitamin D?
Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body. This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
Who is most at risk of vitamin D deficiency?
- People who don’t go outdoors often
- People who wear clothes which cover most of their skin outside
- People with dark skin, for example of African, African-Caribbean or South Asian descent
- People who wear sunscreen most or all of the time
- Babies, young children and pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Older adults, as your body can’t make as much vitamin D when you get older
- People with health issues such as Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease, and some types of liver and kidney disease. People who are on certain medications which change the way vitamin D is controlled in the body
- Very overweight people, as there is some evidence to suggest that obese people are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D
- People who eat very few foods that contain vitamin D