As with all essential vitamins, vitamin D is crucial to keep the body in good health. We know that we can get a dose of vitamin D from the sun, but through a combination of living in the not-so-sunny UK and the warnings to protect ourselves against UVA and UVB rays, it’s no wonder a large percentage of the population is deficient in vitamin D.
What does vitamin D do?
Vitamin D is super important for maintaining healthy bones, as its main benefit is to help the bones absorb calcium. As well as this, it also enhances the absorption of other elements, such as iron, magnesium and zinc. A lack of the sunshine vitamin could mean your body is also low on levels of other essential vitamins and minerals.
There is also new research to suggest that vitamin D may play an even bigger role in supporting a health body than we originally thought. Scientists are currently looking at the role vitamin D plays in the prevention of illnesses like cancers, diabetes, heart disease and viral infections.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, young children, those aged over 65 and those with darker skin tones are the most likely to have low levels.
How can I tell if I am lacking vitamin D?
The symptoms are not always clear, but the most common sign is fatigue. Muscle weakness, trouble sleeping, headaches and a lack of concentration are also symptoms many people face. A simple blood test is all it takes to diagnose, so if you have concerns speak to your GP or health professional.
How can I boost my vitamin D levels?
The easiest way to give your body a big vitamin D hit is allowing your skin to have direct contact with sunlight. 20-30 minutes of exposure (ideally including your arms and legs) during the summer months is recommended to provide a healthy vitamin D top up. However, this isn’t an excuse to forget the SPF!
You can also increase your body’s vitamin D levels through your diet. Fortified Soy Milk and Almond Milk, milk, ricotta cheese, tofu and mushrooms are all foods with high levels of this essential vitamin.