The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D, also nicknamed the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as it can be produced after exposure to UVB light, is a fat soluble vitamin that plays a number of critical roles in our body. It is commonly known for its ability to increase absorption of calcium which is necessary for bone growth and remodelling.
However it has a range of other benefits to our physical and mental health too.
Recently there has been more than ever interest in its anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties for the activation of the immune system defences and fighting of infections such as influenza and Covid-19.
Because vitamin D is produced after exposure to sunlight, it synthesis is influenced by latitude, season, use of sunblock and skin pigmentation. Therefore in countries such the UK, where the sunlight is limited, it is necessary to supplement Vitamin D.
By increasing your intake of Vitamin D you will not only help your bones to stay strong for longer, which means less fractures and wear and tear on the skeletal system but also you will set your immune system for better chance to succeed in fighting of infections. When combined with calcium, it can help prevent osteoporosis. Along with bone-building abilities, Vitamin D is also influential in strengthening muscles, which plays a crucial role in falls prevention which is particularly important for elderly people.
Although vitamin D has been used to treat infections such tuberculosis in the past, it was done unknowingly. TB patients were sent to sanatoriums where part of their treatment was to be exposed to sunlight. Cod liver oil, a rich source of Vitamin D has also been employed as a treatment.
However, there have been numerous studies since then that has shown the link between low levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Its role in preventing infections has become a centre of interest during Covid-19 pandemic and a recent study has determined that higher levels of vit D help reduce the likelihood of adverse clinical outcomes and death in hospitalized patients with the disease as it helps to control the release of pro-inflammatory proteins knows as cykotines.
To summarize, vitamin D is beneficial not only for healthy bones but also it plays critical role in keeping our immune system working at optimal level. Its deficiency may compromise immune response and increase risk of infection and diseases. Living in countries such the UK where the exposure to sunlight is limited, supplementing vitamin D is necessary, especially in winter season.
If you would like to increase your intake of vitamin D, there is a small number of foods that include it: oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks. Getting all your vitamin D from food, especially when you are vegetarian or vegan, may be tricky if there is not enough sunlight. Therefore try to be outdoors when the sun is out as much as possible. And don’t forget to use dietary supplements that are a great source of Vitamin D.
At the clinic, we assess and treat body as a whole and often recommend supplements to our clients such as magnesium, Omega 3, collagen, zinc etc depending on your body needs to function at optimal level.
If you are not sure what supplement is right for you, please speak to our clinicians and they will advise you.