The sunshine vitamin that's good for your bones
Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin as it’s also known as, has a wealth of health benefits and is most associated with keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
Our bodies produce vitamin D naturally when our skin is exposed to sunlight, but as a lot of us are spending more time indoors due to lockdown, and as the amount of natural daylight decreases between the months of October - March, it's important we get our vitamin D hit from other sources in order to keep our bodies running smoothly and our immune system fighting fit.
What are good sources of Vitamin D?
As well as oily fish such as sardines, tuna, mackerel and herring, good sources of vitamin D include red meat, egg yolks and liver. For veggies and vegans, taking a daily supplement or mouth spray is ideal for keeping your levels topped up. Whilst there have been some reports that vitamin D can help to reduce the risk of Covid-19, there isn't enough evidence to support those claims at present.
How do I know if I have Vitamin D deficiency?
Although we can get our vitamin D fix from sources other than the sun, the natural way is the best as it absorbs through the skin making it super easy to get our daily dose. But what are the factors that affect us from getting it from natural sunlight?
- Being in an area with high pollution
- Using sunscreen
- Spending more time indoors
- Living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
- Having darker skin. (The higher the levels of melanin, the less vitamin D the skin can absorb.)
The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can vary, but often include tiredness, aches and pains, severe bone or muscle pain that makes getting up off the floor or from a low chair extremely difficult, or causes you to walk with a waddle. In extreme cases, it can even cause stress fractures in the legs, pelvis and hips due to weakening or softening of the bones.
To prevent this, taking a daily supplement of 10 micrograms throughout the year should really help.