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Wellbeing Features

Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency

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Touted as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is receiving a great deal of attention recently both in the scientific community and in the media. This is because researchers and health experts are telling us may not be getting enough.

Vitamin D deficiency is a very common problem and over half of the UK population is thought to be deficient of this essential vitamin according to Patient UK.

Experts now advise a certain amount of unprotected exposure to the sun is essential. 2-3 exposures to the sun per week in the summer month?s helps the body store up this essential sunshine vitamin to keep us going through the winter months. Our main source of vitamin D is that made by our own bodies. 90% of our vitamin D is made in the skin with the help of sunlight. So as the matter stands, taking in some sun is actually beneficial for your health!

Vitamin D facts:
Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our skin, when exposed to sunlight, can produce this vitamin for the body.

Your ability to make the vitamin decreases if you use sunscreen, during the winter months if you live in the northern hemisphere, if you have dark pigmented skin, and as you age. As a result, vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency is increasing.

Vitamin D is mostly made in the skin by exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and therefore this means that the body can store it for future use.

Foods contain very little vitamin D naturally and therefore when deficient it is important to supplement this with either foods enriched with added vitamin D and of course the sunlight!

Vitamin D from the sun
Experts now advise a certain amount of exposure to the sun is essential. 2-3 exposures to the sun per week in the summer month?s helps the body store up this essential Vitamin to keep us going through the winter months. Our main source of vitamin D is that made by our own bodies. 90% of our vitamin D is made in the skin with the help of sunlight.

Each exposure to the sun should last 20-30 minutes and this is not the same as sun tanning, it is more about exposing the skin to sunlight at the right time of the day for only a certain amount of time. So taking in the sun in moderation is a good thing. The sun's rays can be damaging and sunburn should be avoided at all costs (mainly because it can increase your risk of skin cancer). Darker skins need more sun to get the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person.

However as winter draws in, and as we live in the northern hemisphere our chances of getting enough vitamin D may not be the same as someone who lives in more tropical climes. And vitamin D is essential for strong bones, muscle and general health.

Vitamin D deficiency is even more likely to develop in women who have had several full-term pregnancies with short gaps between them. This is because the body's stores of vitamin D get used up, and there is little time for them to be built up before another pregnancy. Why we need Vitamin D Vitamin D plays a vital role in keeping your bones strong and healthy, by helping with the absorption of calcium from your diet and in the formation of bone, but this essential vitamin has also been linked to decreased risk of:

? heart disease
? high blood pressure
? diabetes
? multiple sclerosis
? arthritis

Research suggests that adequate vitamin D may also be associated with a lower risk of colorectal and other types of cancer. And recently, there is emerging evidence it may also help beat the blues since low levels have been linked to certain mood disorders like PMS and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that affects many of us during the winter months when the sun is high in the sky and the grey days seem interminable.

Foods that contain vitamin D include:
Food sources are somewhat limited, here are some top choices:

? Milk. One 8-ounce cup of semi skimmed or low-fat milk has 25% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin D.
? Eggs. A single egg has 10% of your daily vitamin D. The vitamin D is found in the yolk,
? Fortified cereals. Look for whole grain cereals fortified with vitamin D. They offer about 10% of your daily needs for the vitamin per serving, along with the healthy fibre and B-vitamins of those energy-boosting whole grains.
? Certain varieties of mushrooms. When mushrooms grow in the wild, they produce vitamin D in their skin, much like people make vitamin D from exposure to sunshine. However, most mushrooms today are cultivated, growing in dark spaces and never seeing sunshine.
? And there are supplements too. Kelp contains the one and only natural vegetable source of vitamin D. Kelp also contains a number of beneficial nutrients such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iodine, iron and has recently become popular as a vitamin D supplement.



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