Vitamin D is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, as the body creates it from direct sunlight exposure to the skin. It’s a vitamin we in the UK often hear about in the dark, winter months because of our nation’s lack of sunlight. In fact, the official government advice is that people should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during autumn and winter.
What does Vitamin D do?
Vitamin D is often associated with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) due to the connection it has with sunlight, however current clinical research on whether vitamin D helps people with SAD have produced mixed results.
Vitamin Ds real effect lies with your bones, teeth and muscles.
When we think bone health, calcium is usually the mineral that comes to mind. However, Vitamin D is just as, if not more, essential that calcium for maintaining healthy bones.
We are all taught from an early age that calcium is good for your bones and we know it helps to ward off osteoporosis. However, calcium can only do its work if your body has plenty of vitamin D available. These two nutrients work together as vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, so then the calcium can build your bones. Without vitamin D, it doesn't matter how much calcium you're taking in - it could be going to waste.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, a disease which causes soft bones and skeletal deformities due to the tissue not mineralising properly.
Current studies also suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, but further research is required to establish the connections.
How much do I need?
The daily recommended amount of Vitamin D is 10mcg of vitamin D a day, for adults and children over the age of one. Babies under 12 months need around 8.5-10mcg a day.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also be getting the full 10mcg a day.
During the spring and summer months, most adults should be able to get most of their vitamin D from direct sunlight exposure. However, because the skin needs direct exposure to the suns UV rays to create vitamin D, the use of sunscreen (even the lowest SPF) prevents the vitamin D being created too.
It’s recommended that those who aren’t often outdoors (such as housebound people), people who keep their skin covered or those who always wear sunscreen might want to consider a supplement all year round.
Where do I get it?
As already mentioned, Vitamin D is made by the body from UV exposure to the skin.
It is possible to find Vitamin D in a small number of food items too, although it is difficult to reach the full daily requirement through these foods every day.
Foods that contain Vitamin D are:
- oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
- red meat
- egg yolks
- fortified foods such as cereals
Vitamin D is available in many different supplement formats to assist people throughout the year and during the dark winter months.
There are two types of Vitamin D supplement: Vitamin D2 and D3. Vitamin D3 more potent than vitamin D2 – D3 is the type that our bodies make naturally, whilst D2 is actually is a compound produced by irradiating yeast with ultraviolet light. Vitamin D3 is the preferable form and has been found to be at least three time more effective than D2.
Vitamin D3 is the type we use in our TEA+ Vitamin D blend. Each teabag has 100% of your daily requirement of Vitamin D, so it’s an easy (and delicious) choice for supplementing your Vitamin D intake this winter.