Everything you need to know about vitamin D

Dietician Lola Biggs explains the importance of vitamin D to our diets and bodies. 

What is vitamin D? And why do we need it? 

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin owing to the amazing fact that our bodies can create it when we expose our skin to the rays of the sun.

It does not work alone, but instead in beautiful partnerships within the body including most famously the mineral calcium, forming strong and healthy bones

Vitamin D reaches almost every system in the body, and works as a mass communicator—think of the logistics team in any office— it's the essential element which makes things happen.

 

How much vitamin D do you need? Does it vary with different skin types?

Needs for vitamin D vary, depending on factors such as age, health status and gender amongst other things. However, it is commonly agreed that 400IU (international units) is the aim, with larger doses proving to have a benefit.

The ability to create the vitamin "in-house" by means of the sun depends on a few variants.

Firstly exposure, vitamin D production is most efficient on larger areas of skin like the back and legs. Skin synthesising sensitivity is linked predominately to the tone of the skin—darker skin tones can take up to six times the exposure time to create the same amount of the vitamin in a particular area as those with lighter tones, and on top of this, it also all depends on the wavelength of the sun.

Additionally, city dwellers beware, air pollution can play a massive role as polluted air soaks up UVB or reflects it back into space. This means that if you live somewhere where there is lots of pollution, your skin makes less vitamin D. 


What are other sources of vitamin D? 

The right food can offer a great source of vitamin D, however, a typical diet doesn't provide large amounts, and with concerns surrounding sun exposure alongside evidence growing about the continued benefits of getting enough, supplements are readily available on the market.

When choosing a supplement it's wise to check the source, and ask, is it in a body favourable form?

Vitamin D3 also known as Calcitriol is the form you should aim for and 1000iu naturally sourced would make a good supplement, avoid those with added fillers, binders or chemicals—no one wants those in a health product.

Vitamin D synthesised by the sun is always the most efficient as from supplements it has to be changed by your body a number of times before it can be used. Choosing D3 format known as cholecalciferol vs D2 (ergocalciferol) reduces one of these necessary processes. It's important to understand that this process includes the liver, so looking after this organ is also a good idea!

 

Vegan Vitamin D3, RRP £6.99, is a bio-active plant source of D3 harvested from wild grown lichen in a base of coconut oil for improved absorption and assimilation of this essential fat-soluble vitamin