What is Vitamin D and why is it so important?
Vitamin D is also known as “the sunshine vitamin and is produced by the action of sunlight upon the skin. Following this process it is processed by the kidneys and liver into an extremely powerful substance. Very few foods are natural sources of vitamin D. Foods that do contain vitamin D include fatty fish, fish liver oils, butter and eggs from hens that have been fed vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in regulating calcium levels in the body and deficiency of this vital nutrient famously results in rickets in children, which is once again becoming prevalent, and osteomalacia (bone calcium loss) in adults. However, much of the recent interest in the nutrient has been focused on its role in supporting the immune system and many diseases that appear to be more prevalent when vitamin D levels are low.
Who should be taking Vitamin D supplements?
According to the Governments Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, we know that a significant proportion of people in the U.K. probably have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood. Pregnant women and children under the age of five are two groups that are particularly at risk and are already advised to take daily supplements. Other at risk groups are those who are the elderly, housebound, vegans, people with kidney and liver diseases, coeliac disease sufferers as well as those who cover up with clothing and sunscreen. This list is by no means comprehensive and it is probably fair to say that most of us would benefit from a daily supplement.
Which form of Vitamin D is the most effective?
Recent studies have shown that the vitamin D3 form is 87 percent more potent at raising blood levels of the vitamin than the vitamin D2 form and also shows a 2- to 3-fold increase in its storage. Supplementing with 400iu – 1000iu of vitamin D3 is ideal for most people including children whose rapid bone growth ensures that their daily requirements are much the same as adults’.
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