Vitamin D is making the headlines. With 20% of men in the UK clinically deficient and at risk of impaired muscle function, weak bones and depressed immunity, we all need to start paying attention to this issue! That led us to speak with nutritional therapist, Anna-Karin Aksberg to discuss the importance of vitamin D.
Why is it important?
Bone health is the most common benefit associated with vitamin D, but there are so many other significant health benefits where optimal vitamin D levels are essential such as:
- Healthy blood pressure
- Immune system
- Brain function
- Impaired muscle function
How to obtain optimal levels?
Direct sunlight is the best way to obtain vitamin D. However; enough sunshine can be tricky to achieve if you live in the northern hemisphere, if you have darker skin or if you spend the majority of your day indoors. I recommend my clients to spend roughly 10 minutes in the sun in the morning before the sun gets too intense. You will absorb approximately 10,000 units of vitamin D by 10 minutes of direct sun exposure. The amount consumed differ depending on skin tone and how strong the sun is. Some food sources contain low levels of vitamin D such as wild-caught oily fish, beef or calf liver, egg yolks, shiitake mushrooms and other mushrooms. Although it is impossible to obtain enough vitamin D only through food.
What is the optimal level of vitamin D?
There are many views on what the optimal level of vitamin D is. There is also a difference between optimal and sufficient levels. Public Health England recommends taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms to maintain a sufficient level.
Check your vitamin D levels before supplementing. A test from your GP will show you how much you need and as with any supplementation, you should never take too much. Too high doses of supplemented vitamin D can lead to calcium build up in the bloodstream which may cause nausea, vomiting and frequent urination. If you live in Britain, it can be a good idea to supplement with vitamin D from September to April, and if you spend most of your time indoors or have a darker skin tone, supplementation may be required all year round.
Spend more time outdoors. It’s not only suitable for your vitamin D levels but also important for improved sleep and mood and increased energy levels. Aim to catch at least 10 minutes of the sun in the morning and always be careful not to get sunburnt. Finally, test your vitamin D levels by asking your GP or get a home test kit online.