The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is necessary for growth, and is especially important for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth in children, with severe deficiency linked to rickets in children and osteomalacia, a similar disorder, in adults.

There is growing interest and research into vitamin D, with a quick PubMed search of ‘vitamin D deficiency’ returning 19,671 results! Research suggests that vitamin D may provide protection from muscle weakness, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer, depression, and several autoimmune diseases; it also enhances immunity, is necessary for thyroid function and normal blood clotting, to name a few.

During the past year, nearly all of my clients who we tested for vitamin D had either sub-normal or deficient levels.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin with properties of both a vitamin and a hormone, and is required for the absorption and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus. There are several forms of vitamin D, with D3 considered the most active as it is synthesised in the skin in response to exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Vitamin D2 comes from food sources but it is not fully active, and requires conversion by the liver and then by the kidneys before it becomes fully active. D3 is 87% more effective in raising and maintaining vitamin D levels than D2.

Intestinal disorders, liver and gallbladder malfunctions interfere with the absorption of vitamin D. Some cholesterol-lowering drugs, antacids, mineral oil and steroid hormones such as cortisone also interfere with absorption.

Good food sources include: mackerel, salmon, eggs, shiitake mushrooms, cow milk and goat milk products.

For those of us living in the northern hemisphere with limited sun exposure during the winter months, it is worth getting your vitamin D levels checked to support good health.