What is it about vitamin D lately? I can’t seem to open a nutrition related magazine without seeing a headline boasting about the wonderous health benefits of vitamin D. So what are these miraculous claims that are hitting the headlines and could a ‘free from’ diet put you at risk of a deficiency of the latest wonder vitamin?
What do you think of when I say Vitamin D? This is what I asked my husband this evening, his response – “sunshine”, “…err, Rickets” excellent, but this was the end of his (and no doubt most people’s) knowledge of vitamin D.
I could add to this the fact that together with calcium it is a very important nutrient for bone health and whilst we get most of our vitamin D from sunlight exposure, the main dietary sources are oily fish, eggs and fortified margarines and breakfast cereals. I know that supplements are recommended for people who are pregnant, breast-feeding or house-bound and that people of Asian origin are at higher risk of deficiency but that’s about it.
So when I started looking into the topic I was amazed at the amount of recent beneficial clains for the nutrient, here are just a few of the headlines…
Is lack of vitamin D linked to swine flu?
Vitamin D – key to healthy brain
Boosting levels of vitamin D could cut cancer by up to 25%
Millions face serious health risks over lack of vitamin D in diets
Could sunshine save your life
Caesareans much more common in women with vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D can protect against MS say scientists
Vitamin D could stave off mental decline in the elderly
Teenage girls who lack vitamin D risk weight gain and stunted growth
Vitamin D could boost fertility in women with ovulation problems
Parkinson’s linked to vitamin D
D stands for death-defying on the vitamin stakes
Vitamin D could protect against diabetes
Could vitamin D really cure your arthritis
Vitamin D may help slow ageing
I’m sure most of us can identify with at least one of these health issues, but this doesn’t mean you need to be alarmed. We get 90% of our vitamin D from sunlight exposure but you need to get out for 10-15 minutes per day during the summer months, without covering up (but remember the risk of skin cancer and don’t get burnt!). So if you are not a sun-worshipper you might need to look more carefully at your diet and if you can’t manage a regular intake of vitamin D rich foods you may benefit from a supplement. However, too much vitamin D can harm the kidneys and liver so stick to the recommended daily dose of 10ug (or 400IU).