Today I thought I’d discuss the delightful, the decadent, the delicious, Vitamin D! OK so it might not be that delicious but it is very important for our immune function! Unfortunately due to the current covid-19 situation many of us have not been receiving our usual intake, so going into winter it is going to be especially important that we are mindful of our Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that comes in two forms: Vitamin D2 mainly from yeasts and mushrooms which have been exposed to UV and Vitamin D3 which is synthesised in the skin of animals, including our own, from UV exposure.
The general rule of thumb for getting enough Vitamin D is exposing your solar panels (the areas of our body with the most surface area such as your thighs or your back) to the sun for around 15 minutes per day. However, this is totally dependent on your skin colour. The lighter the skin, the less time you need and vice versa. Once your skin starts to turn pink, you’ve had enough!
Before science caught on, good old Hippocrates in the 5th century prescribed Vitamin D for tuberculosis, a bacterial disease of the respiratory system. Today, we know that Vitamin D enhances the function of some of our immune cells and also has a protective effect on our body in response to inflammation. Plus, how good does sitting in the warm winter’s sun feel when you’re not feeling the best?!
Vitamin D is found in food, mainly animal products, however, the best source is directly through our skin from the sun. Studies have also shown that the closer to the equator and therefore sunnier you are, the less likely you are to develop a number of immune-related conditions.
If your lifestyle or the weather prevents adequate sun exposure it may be a good idea to supplement but please speak with a qualified naturopath or nutritionist before taking anything.