VITAMIN D3 - ALL HAIL THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN
Until the recent coronavirus outbreak, Vitamin D didn’t grab the headlines it deserves. Yet this nutrient has a surprising number of benefits that are vital to survival. Originally discovered by the German researcher Adolf Windaus, vitamin D is produced naturally in our skin when exposed to sunlight. It has subsequently been dubbed ‘the sunshine vitamin’ by academics.
And for the science buffs among you, Vitamin D consists of D2-ergocalciferol and D3-cholecalciferol. Just in case you need to know for an exam, D1 is a compound rather than a pure vitamin so is no longer used and does not have a scientific name. Vitamin D3 is vitally important for maintaining healthy bones, teeth and muscles, but also has a string of other key benefits including facilitating a normal immune system.
SO, WHAT IS VITAMIN D3?
Vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus which are critical to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Vitamin D3 also has a vital role in strengthening the immune system. Immunity is important for defending the body from foreign, viruses that cause illness and disease. You need a strong immune system to combat Covid-19 for example. Researchers have found a link between compromised immunity and a deficiency of vitamin D. It is therefore important to get a sufficient intake of D3…
SOURCES OF VITAMIN D
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors but you can also boost your vitamin D intake by eating certain foods:
+ oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
+ red meat (although worth noting that eating a lot of red meat can increase your risk of prostate cancer)
+ egg yolks
+ fortified foods – such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals
In the U.K., between October and early March we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight and since it is difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone (especially for those that are vegans or vegetarians), the NHS advise everyone should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D during the autumn and winter to keep your bones and muscles healthy.
Furthermore, the Department of Health and Social Care recommends that you take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day throughout the year if you have dark skin – for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background (as the higher the levels of melanin, the less vitamin D the skin can absorb) OR,
+ are not often outdoors – for example, if you're frail or housebound
+ are in an institution like a care home
+ usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors
Himmense SHIFT contains 200% of your NRV (400 IU) of Vitamin D3.
VITAMIN D3 DEFICIENCY - AN IGNORED EPIDEMIC
Vitamin D3 deficiency appears to have crept up on the blindside. Researchers have discovered it’s a global pandemic that by and large has been ignored by health organisations and government bodies. In today’s society, there are several factors that contribute to low levels of D3 in the bloodstream, especially city dwellers. Such factors include:
+ Living in high pollution zones
+ Smothering yourself in high-block sunscreen
+ Spending too much time indoors with no exposure to natural sunlight
+ Living in large cities with high-rise buildings
+ Poor and/or vegan diet
SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN D-FICIENCY
+ Tiredness, aches, pains and a general sense of not feeling well
+ Bone diseases such as osteomalacia and osteoporosis
+ Muscle pain
+ Weakness in legs when climbing stairs
+ Struggling to lift yourself out of a low chair
+ Stress factors in legs, pelvis and hips
THE BENEFITS OF VITAMIN D3
1. FIGHTING DISEASE:
Studies show that vitamin D may also play a role in:
+ reducing your risk of multiple sclerosis, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
+ decreasing your chance of developing heart diseases, according to 2008 findings in Circulation
+ treating hypertension and high blood pressure according to a 2019 review published in the journal of Current Protein Peptide Science
+ helping to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu, according to 2010 research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
+ reducing the risk of COVID-19 according to some reports and studies
+ lower the risk of type 2 diabetes according to a 2006 study in the journal Diabetes Care
+ fighting certain cancers according to various studies referenced on the National Cancer Institutes (NCI) website (read our blog here on how to reduce your risk of Prostate Cancer)
2. REDUCING DEPRESSION:
Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and fighting off depression.
3. BOOSTING WEIGHT LOSS:
A study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo.
DEM BONES, DEM VITAMIN D BONES
Vitamin D plays an important role in building and protecting bones. It is needed to help your body absorb calcium, an important mineral that is necessary for life. Calcium assists the heart, blood and enables your muscles to contract so you can lift things - including yourself. Without vitamin D your bones become brittle and break easily, and your legs are prone to buckle. Around 99% of the calcium in your body is needed for the bones and teeth but we lose a little every day through skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and faeces. Your body does not produce calcium naturally. It requires a source of vitamin D such as sunlight, certain foods and/or supplements.
If your body is not getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D3, the risk of increasing bone abnormalities such as soft bones and fragile bones is higher. Undeveloped bones due to a vitamin D deficiency results in diseases such as rickets and other skeletal abnormalities such as bowed legs and a stooped posture.
The World Health Organisation has dubbed the UK ‘the third fattest nation in Europe’. That smarts a bit, to be honest. Guys we need to shape up and level up our health game. As outlined above, researchers have found vitamin D has an appetite-suppressing quality that can be used to control weight. What’s more, obesity increases the risk of death to Covid-19 by around 48%. Vitamin D3, on the other hand, helps to improve the immune system to help fight coronavirus (and other viruses) - so two birds one stone. If health and wellbeing wasn’t already a topic that required urgent discussion among men, the coronavirus pandemic should have set your alarms ringing.
MAKE HARD WORK LIGHT WORK
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