Jacqualine Barnett, Care Quality Manager at Katherine Harriet Ltd looks at how Vitamin D plays an important role in our everyday diet
Jacqualine has had a look at why VITAMIN D plays an important role.
VITAMIN D (Sunshine Vitamin)
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is one of the 13 vitamins that was discovered in the 20th century. Doctors who were studying deficiencies discovered that our bodies struggled if our diets were poor. Although we only need small amounts of the 13 Vitamins, which we can usually access through our diets; Vitamin D is a vitamin /mineral that the body can produce given the correct conditions. It does not exist in most foods except the following except fish and egg yolks, and even when it’s obtained from foods, it must be transformed by the body before it can do any good.
In the modern world, we continuously find it hard to rely on our bodies to produce vitamin D in the old-fashioned way. The diet today is based on a lot of processed food, and we rely on taking Vitamin D artificially.
The natural way for our bodies to produce Vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight this can be natural or through a false source of sunlight such as a special lamped sun bed. The amount of vitamin D produced depends on the strength of the source of sunlight.
So why is Vitamin D so important and why do we need it?
Vitamin D helps to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphate into the body. These elements are vital to keep our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. It also plays a huge part in supporting the immune system and is a part of the process of rebuilding our cells.
Vitamin D also plays a part in maintaining the heart and blood vessels and therefore helps support normal blood pressure. There have been studies that have suggested it helps combat high cholesterol and with this in mind, Vitamin D could help to address heart disease.
What are the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?
- Not sleeping well.
- Bone pain or achiness.
- Depression or feelings of sadness.
- Hair loss.
- Muscle weakness.
- Loss of appetite.
- Getting sick more easily
Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to a loss of bone density, which can lead to and contribute to the disease known as osteoporosis and fractures (broken bones). Severe vitamin D deficiency can also lead to other diseases in children, it can cause rickets. Rickets are a rare disease that causes the bones to become soft and bend, this used to be a concern during the war years.
The good old days
Vitamin D deficiencies were rare when most men rolled up their sleeves to work in sunny fields. But as work shifted from farms to offices, that changed. Deficiencies are also common in patients with intestinal disorders that limit the absorption of fat and those with kidney or liver diseases that reduce the conversion of vitamin D to its active form, calcitriol. Without enough vitamin D, the intestines cannot efficiently absorb calcium. However, because blood calcium is critical for neuromuscular and cardiac function, the body does not allow levels to fall. Instead, it pours out parathyroid hormone, which summons calcium from bone. Blood calcium levels remain normal, so your heart and nerves keep working nicely. But your bones bear the brunt: As bone calcium density falls, bones become weak and fracture-prone.
How can we support our intake of vitamin D?
We can take supplements to maintain the correct level of vitamin D however it is healthier to eat a Vitamin D-rich diet of the following foods and fruits.
- Oranges. Oranges are one of the fruits rich in Vitamin D as its juice is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. …
- Eggs. Eggs are also a great source of vitamin D when consumed as a whole. …
- Salmon. Oils from fish are an excellent source of vitamin D and omega-3 acids. …
- Milk. …
- Cod Liver Oil. …
- Raw Oysters. …
- Spinach. …
Chicken and beef are also rich in Vitamin D
Groups at Risk of Vitamin D Inadequacy
Breastfed infants Consumption of human milk alone does not ordinarily enable infants to meet vitamin D requirements, because it provides less than 0.6 to 2.0 mcg. The vitamin D content of human milk is related to the mother’s vitamin D status and therefore pregnant women should eat a healthy diet containing rich Vit D foods.
Older adults and the elderly Older adults are at increased risk of developing vitamin D insufficiency, partly because the skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D declines with age and as we get older and lose mobility, we tend to stay indoors a lot more. The diet causes another problem with low vitamin levels as we get older due to different requirements with age.
People with limited sun exposure
People who are housebound, who wear long robes or even head coverings due to religious beliefs have a limit to natural sunlight. Modern-day living and the requirement to protect ourselves against sunlight by wearing sunscreens also play an active part in reducing or limiting direct exposure to sunlight.
People with conditions that limit fat absorption Because vitamin D is fat soluble, its absorption depends on the gut’s ability to absorb dietary fat. Fat malabsorption is associated with medical conditions that include some forms of liver disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. In addition to having an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency. Due to these conditions, certain foods, such as dairy products (many of which are fortified with vitamin D).
People with obesity or who have undergone gastric bypass surgery Individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more have lower serum D levels than individuals without obesity. Obesity does not affect the skin’s capacity to synthesize vitamin D. However, greater amounts of subcutaneous fat sequester more of the vitamin. People with obesity might need greater intakes of vitamin D to achieve the correct percentage required.
Our bodies need Vitamin D daily to be able to support our muscle frame and body functions and we will all benefit from being out in the fresh air; we can see just how it helps us.
Vitamin D Benefits
- It strengthens the immune system. …
- It might prevent certain types of cancer. …
- It boosts your mood. …
- It can aid in weight loss. …
- It can lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. …
- It lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. …
- It can help lower blood pressure. …
- It might reduce the risk of heart disease.
21/09/23 / Jacqualine Barnett– Care Quality Manager