We all know we need to eat a balanced diet and get a variety of vitamins and nutrients to keep our bodies healthy.
But how much do you actually know about the benefits we get from each different vitamin?
There are quite a few vitamins and nutrients that I know are good for me, but I don’t know what specific effect they have on my body.
One vitamin that we’ve been hearing a lot about in the news recently is Vitamin D.
It’s an essential vitamin that has so many benefits for the whole family, and one that we all need to be making sure we get enough of over the winter months.
Vitamin D is quite often referred to as ‘the sunshine vitamin’ because our bodies produce it when our skin is exposed to sunlight.
From the end of March until the end of September most of us are out in the sunshine enough that we can get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight. During the rest of the year though it gets much harder. Our skin isn’t exposed to natural sunlight in the same way and so it’s much harder for our bodies to produce this important vitamin.
We can get some vitamin D from a small number of foods including:
- red meat
- egg yolks
- oily fish such as salmon and sardines
- fortified foods such as breakfast cereals
These foods don’t give us all the vitamin D we need though, so the Department of Health and Social Care recommends that we should all consider taking a vitamin D supplement in the autumn and winter months.
There are specific supplements for babies, children and adults that ensure that everyone gets the correct dosage, although formula-fed babies shouldn’t be given supplements because formula is fortified with vitamin D.
You can easily buy vitamins online and have them delivered to your home, or you can pick some up on the high street or at the supermarket when you do your food shop.
The reason it’s recommended that we take supplements to make sure we get enough vitamin D in the autumn and winter months is because it plays such an important role in keeping us healthy.
Vitamin D helps us maintain good bone, teeth and muscle health.
It works alongside calcium, promoting its absorption in the gut. This is turn allows for normal mineralisation of the bones. In other words, we need vitamin D alongside calcium, for calcium to be able to properly do its thing.
This is why it’s so important to make sure our children get enough vitamin D, as their bones and teeth are still developing. And it’s just as important for us as we get older to help prevent issues with weak bones and muscles.
Vitamin D also protects our immune systems so we can fight off infections, colds and flu viruses, which is especially important at the moment with the coronavirus spreading along with the standard seasonal viruses.
A study carried out in Denmark led researchers to believe that vitamin D is an important part of a complex process in which T cells become ready to help fight infection. The findings from the study suggest that taking vitamin D supplements can boost immunity, and that people who have a vitamin D deficiency are more susceptible to infection.
Making sure the whole family gets enough vitamin D can also help everyone avoid health issues such as feeling run down and tired, depression, hair loss and slow-healing wounds.
So in the coming months when we’re all staying inside more and not getting the exposure to sunlight we need to produce vitamin D, it really is worth looking at taking a supplement and getting more vitamin D rich foods into the family’s diet.
Disclosure: this is a collaborative post