The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin because we mainly recognise it as being a vitamin that we get from the sun. Our body produces this vitamin naturally when we  receive sunlight, however there are also a few foods that can supply us with vitamin D. But why do we need it?

Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and aid bone growth, a lack of it can lead to osteoporosis. As it is a fat soluble vitamin, unlike most, it cannot dissolve in water meaning it is mainly available in high fat foods and it is a lot easier to absorb into the bloodstream when eaten with fat. As well as vitamin D, vitamins A, E and K are also fat soluble. This means the few foods we do get vit D from include, salmon, egg yolks and shrimp, all high fat foods. However many foods are fortified, meaning they have the vitamin added to them such as cereal, yoghurt and orange juice. Although these are all good sources, as long as you're getting a sufficient amount of sunlight, your body can produce enough all by itself. 

If you're fortunate enough to live in a sunny country then that's all well and good, but if in places like the UK where sunshine isn't a regular visitor you many have to consider eating more of these foods or taking vitamin D supplements, which you should consult your doctor about first. But how can you tell that you're suffering from vitamin D deficiency? Well here are some of the symptoms...

-Fatigue, feeling generally not very well often 
-Severe muscle and bone pain or weakness 
-Stress factures 

As stated above, Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, helping build and keep the bones strong. A deficiency in vitamin D in children can cause rickets, where you will find children with 'bow legs' due to soft bones. Weak bones in older adults can be especially dangerous as it increases the risk of falling and breaking bones, which can lead to further problems in later life. 

There have been some studies to suggest that vitamin D may also play a part in the prevention of cancer, as it regulates cell growth and studies have suggested that calcitriol (the hormone form of vit D) can slow down and prevent the growth of new blood vessel tissues cancerous tissue. Other studies have shown that the vitamin may also have a part to play in the prevention in diseases such as Alzheimers, asthma, swine flu and cardiovascular disease, however more studies need to be made. 



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