Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that also goes by the name of the “sunshine vitamin”. It supports many roles in the body, as to which we will reveal in this guide.
There are actually two forms of vitamin D; vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 mainly comes from plants and vitamin D3 is produced by your skin when in sunlight. You can also find vitamin D3 in certain foods (mainly animal-based products).
Why Is Vitamin D Important?
While all vitamins are important for your body, vitamin D has several functions worth knowing about. Let’s take a look at three of the most important effects of the vitamin, as stated and approved by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).
1. Supports Normal Calcium Absorption
It has long been known that vitamin D3 aids calcium absorption. It’s incredibly important for your body to absorb calcium, as this mineral:
- Is needed for muscle function
- Is needed for normal nerve function
- Is essential for bone health
- Helps to keep a healthy blood pressure
As you can see, calcium is a much needed mineral for your body. Vitamin D helps to ensure you’re getting the right amount.
2. Normal Muscle Function
Vitamin D also helps to build and maintain strong muscles, particularly as you age. Some people choose to take vitamin D supplements specially tailored to bone health due to this.
3. Normal Function Of The Immune System
Vitamin D is perhaps most commonly known for supporting the immune system. It is important for your natural defences, which play a vital role in keeping viruses away.
How To Get Enough Vitamin D
It’s clear to see just how important vitamin D is for your health. Now all that’s left to do is make sure you’re getting enough of it!
The majority of your vitamin D is absorbed via the sun. When exposed to direct sunlight, your skin naturally produces vitamin D3 (providing that the sun is strong enough). According to the NHS, spending around 20 to 30 minutes outside each day should do the trick.
While we can rely on the sun for most of our vitamin D, it’s not strong enough all year round. This means that, during the winter months especially, you need to find other sources of vitamin D. The easiest way to keep on top of this is through a balanced diet and vitamin D supplementation.
Food Sources Of Vitamin D Include:
Although usually in small quantities, vitamin D can be found in:
- Oily fish
- Egg yolk
- Red meat
- Some fortified milk and cereals
When it comes to managing your vitamin D intake, it can be quite tricky to rely on diet alone. This is particularly true for those on vegan diets, as the majority of foods containing vitamin D come from animals.
If you wish to safeguard your vitamin intake and can’t rely on the sun alone, it is highly recommended to take a daily supplement. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a nutritionist or health expert if you have any concerns.