Most of us have heard that we get our daily dose of Vitamin D from 20 minutes exposure to the morning sunlight. True. But I want to share with you a few more interesting truths about Vitamin D, starting with the fact that it is actually a hormone. Yes, that’s right, it’s a hormone that regulates calcium levels in the blood and it is needed for strong bones, muscles and overall health.
Contributing to over 2000 cellular processes within your body, its not surprising that Vitamin D receptors are found in most organs. It also plays an important role in regulating the immune system, brain and cardiovascular function and all throughout pregnancy.
Some interesting research has shown that Vitamin D has a potential anti-infectious activity, where it increases the anti-microbial peptides within the digestive system and the integumentary (skin) systems. This creates a barrier that reduces our risk of infection.
When we spend time in the sun, our bodies make Vitamin D through a chemical reaction when the sunlight penetrates the skin. Some of us are at increased risk of low vitamin D – this includes people with naturally very dark skin and people who have very low exposure to sunlight. Ageing also decreases the body’s ability to make Vitamin D.
A simple solution you might think is to spend more time in the sun. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. The body can only absorb a limited amount of Vitamin D at a time. So lets look at some of the other ways you can increase your daily dose.
Vitamin D can be absorbed from a range of food sources, noting however we only get 10% of our Vitamin D requirements from food. Nonetheless they are still important to note and to include in your diet:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel
- cod liver oil
- shiitake mushrooms, field mushrooms
- fortified foods such as cereal
- butter and cheese
Vitamin D supplements are an effective way to ensure you are getting your daily dose. One study even found that Autistic children supplemented with 300iu per kg, per day demonstrated improvements with their symptoms.
Further research has shown that by taking a Vitamin D supplement in the winter months can improve your mood! So come on, lets get happy and get our daily dose of this awesome hormone dressed up as a vitamin.