Posted by Dayne Hudson in Health / Nutrition
Estimated reading time: 5mins
Vitamin D is one of the 24 micronutrients vital for human survival. It plays a key role in optimising bone health, muscle function, and calcium levels in the blood -- all critical for our health and fitness efforts. But what isn't spoken about enough is that most organs, including your gut, heart, brain, skin, pancreas, kidneys, and immune system, all have receptors for vitamin D! Moreover, vitamin D is important for optimal cognitive function.
Other findings show that vitamin D supplementation can reduce the number of fractures, whilst improving neuromuscular function, which also plays a role in preventing falls and subsequent fractures. This is particularly important for older generations.
And it seems vitamin D can also help us when it comes to flu season; research shows it may prevent us from getting it! Further studies suggest vitamin D may play a role in bolstering our mood and reducing depression. This was a randomised double-blind trial, where the researchers concluded that higher levels of vitamin D in the blood were indeed consistent in reducing depression symptoms.
Further research examined those with fibromyalgia and found that a deficiency in vitamin D was more common in those who were suffering from anxiety and depression.
It may; studies have found a vitamin D supplement resulted in more weight loss in one group when compared to a placebo, and actually had an appetite-suppressing effect! Further research into obese subjects with vitamin D deficiencies did lose more fat when given a vitamin D supplement in conjunction with a weight loss diet.
Whilst more research is needed here, and we should be more concerned with a daily calorie deficit when it comes to fat loss (in comparison to taking vitamin D), the current research is looking positive.
Research shows an estimated 31% of Australian adults don't get enough vitamin D. And that number increases to more than 50% for women in southern states during winter and spring. Given we at Bulk Nutrients are a Tasmanian company, we know just how hard it is to obtain adequate Vitamin D during winter!
And let's face it, getting enough sunshine can be difficult for lots of reasons, so a great strategy to combat this is to supplement with vitamin D itself because when it comes to getting it from food, it can be quite tricky...
Foods high in Vitamin D -- there's not many!
Scientists put it rather bluntly:
"Vitamin D is found naturally in only very few foods."
Here is a list of foods high in Vitamin D:
- Pork, Beef, Chicken, Eggs
- Butter, cheese
- Cereals (corn flakes)
- Orange juice
You can see how getting enough vitamin D if you're not eating these foods, can be a challenge. Moreover, vegans and vegetarians, are limited to what is available in mushrooms and some cereals. This is where supplementation is important, along with knowing how much vitamin D you need to consume daily.
Recently revised recommendations state 600 IU (15 micrograms) for those aged 1–70 years and 800 IU (20 micrograms) for those over 71 years of age. The upper limit is listed as 4000 IU (100 micrograms).
Research shows that for those with a moderately fair skin tone, a 6-7 minute walk with your arms exposed mid-afternoon or morning during summer is sufficient. During winter, it's recommended we expose as much sun as possible for 7-40 minutes at noon. Now you can see how difficult this can be, and where supplementation can be beneficial.
The key take-home message is that vitamin D is a critical part of our health and wellbeing, and we can't afford to have a deficiency of it. For omnivores, a diet high in fish and the aforementioned food products, along with sun exposure and a good vitamin D supplement, is sufficient. But when sun exposure and an optimal diet is difficult to achieve, a vitamin D supplement can ensure you don't run into any issues. For vegans and vegetarians, a vitamin D supplement might be critical, particularly during winter when up to 40 minutes of sun exposure can be challenging.