Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin

Summer is here, which means more daylight hours and hopefully plenty more sunshine!

Known as the "sunshine vitamin", vitamin D is known to be important for healthy bones [Source], but also has other health benefits including fighting depression and certain diseases [Source].

Fidelity Life’s Commissions Administrator Jenna Osborne is also studying for her Graduate Diploma in Sport and Exercise with a focus on nutrition.

She says:

Vitamin D is getting a bit of time in the limelight at the moment, and for very good reason. This fat-soluble vitamin works in synergy with other vitamins, such as A, K, and calcium, to help the body perform a number of very important functions – especially ones relating to bone and cardiovascular health. Vitamin D is also a powerful immune modulator which helps us fight infection such as colds and flus, and can help protect against cardiovascular disease through regulating our blood pressure.

'Fat-soluble' means that a vitamin both (a) needs fat to be absorbed, and (b) is stored in your own body fat. Some foods contain small amounts of vitamin D (namely oily fish such as salmon, mushrooms, and fortified foods), but we make the majority of the vitamin D in our bodies from exposure of our skin to sunlight.

However, because we spend so much time indoors – and are told to put on plenty of sunscreen and cover up when we do venture outside – we need to be mindful of vitamin D deficiency. In fact, according to the NZ Nutrition Foundation, the most recent national survey showed that one in three New Zealand children had too little vitamin D in their blood [Source].  Deficiency is particularly prevalent in those who limit their sun exposure through the use of sunscreen, which blocks vitamin D production.

Clearly optimising your vitamin D levels is important to great health, so what can you do to make sure you have enough? 

  • Spend approximately 10 minutes in direct sunlight each day before covering up and putting on sunscreen – you should never burn.
  • Increase your intake of fatty, cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines (and as an added bonus, you'll increase your intake of Omega 3 too!).
  • Other foods that contain vitamin D include liver, egg yolks, and cheese. These foods also provide good amounts of vitamin K2.
  • Get a good quality supplement – ideally one that combines vitamin D3 and vitamin K2, as these two vitamins work together.

The most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are bone pain and muscle weakness, but these symptoms can often be subtle and go unnoticed. The best way to detect a deficiency is to visit a medical professional, and request a blood test - your body will thank you for it!

Disclaimer: The information published in this article should not be taken as medical or nutritional advice, or as an endorsement of the author or any products discussed here. At Fidelity Life, we try hard to make the information we publish accurate and helpful to you, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy and we aren’t liable for any action you take or decisions you make as a result.