Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Vitamin D: the 'Sunshine' Vitamin - Facts & Food Sources

The so-called sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D, helps control the amount of calcium and phosphorus in your body. The genesis of its nickname is because we obtain most the Vitamin D that we need from the action sunlight on our skin.  There are also a few excellent natural food sources too (see below).

It is a fat-soluble vitamin (as opposed to water-soluble vitamins), and this means that it is stored all around the body.  It also means that you need to be careful not to take too much Vitamin D if you take dietary supplements or fortified foods containing the vitamin (for example, by consuming a higher than recommended dose by combining a fortified cod liver oil supplement with a high strength multi-vitamin).

Why we Need Vitamin D & Who Risks Having too Little?

Vitamin D keeps your bones, teeth and muscles healthy, and plays an important role in heart and nerve health.  Vitamin D deficiency is associated with muscle weakness, constipation and irritability and, in extreme cases, can lead to children’s bone deformities such as rickets or painful, tender bones in adulthood from the condition osteomalacia.  More recently, research has associated Vitamin D deficiency with increased incidence of dementia.  On the other hand, too much Vitamin D can be toxic as a result of increased blood levels of calcium.

You may be at risk of having too little Vitamin D if your skin rarely gets exposure to sunlight.
In 2012, the UK's 4 Chief Medical Officers highlighted the risk of vitamin D deficiency amongst certain groups of people, particularly:
  • All pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Infants and young children under 5 years of age
  • Older people aged 65 years and over
  • People who have low or no exposure to the sun
  • People who have darker skin
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin D in adults under 70 is 15mcg/600IU, and this rises to 20mcg/800IU for adults over 70.  The Guidance on Upper Safe Daily Intake for adults is 25mcg/1000IU.

Vitamin D in Food

Vitamin D in Foods
Vitamin D in Food

As well as a regular (but safe) exposure to summer sunshine, you can also obtain Vitamin D in a small number of natural wholesome foods including:
  • oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
  • eggs
Natural Food Source
Serving Size
Provides Vitamin D
Cooked Fresh Salmon
11 mcg/447 IU
Tuna fish, tinned in water, drained
4 mcg/154 IU
Whole Egg or Egg Yolk  
UK Medium
US Large
1 mcg/41 IU
Smoked Mackerel
7 mcg/272 IU

Free Healthy Snacks Recipe Booklet

If you love cooking delicious, healthy, natural wholefoods, then you'll enjoy the snack recipes featured in my FREE Recipe Booklets. With a selection of savoury and sweet recipes for everyday healthy snacks, all you need to do is to choose which booklet you would like and tell me where to send it - details here.

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