The importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is produced by the body as a response to sun exposure; it can also be consumed in food or supplements.

Having enough vitamin D is important for a number of reasons, including maintaining healthy bones and teeth; it may also protect against a range of conditions such as cancer and diabetes.

Vitamin D has multiple roles in the body, helping to:

  • Maintain the health of bones and teeth.
  • Support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system.
  • Regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes management.
  • Support lung function and cardiovascular health.
  • Influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development.

What is vitamin D?

Despite the name, vitamin D is considered a pro-hormone and not actually a vitamin.
Vitamins are nutrients that cannot be created by the body and therefore must be taken in through our diet.

However, vitamin D can be synthesized by our body when sunlight hits our skin.

It is estimated that sensible sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per week allows most people to produce sufficient vitamin D, but vitamin D breaks down quite quickly, meaning that stores can run low, especially in winter

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may include:

  • Getting sick or infected more often.
  • Fatigue.
  • Painful bones and back.
  • Depressed mood.
  • Impaired wound healing.
  • Hair loss.
  • Muscle pain.

Vitamin D food sources

Sunlight is the most common and efficient source of vitamin D. The richest food sources of vitamin D are fish oil and fatty fish. Here is a list of foods with good levels of vitamin D:

  • cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon
  • herring, fresh, raw
  • swordfish, cooked
  • raw mushrooms, 1 cup
  • salmon, sockeye, cooked
  • sardines, canned
  • fortified skim milk, 1 cup
  • tuna, canned in water, drained
  • egg, chicken, whole large