Daylight saving your life? –  Vitamin D – the sunshine Vitamin

How long are you spent indoors during your week?  Have you ever clocked it up?

Research has shown that the average Briton spends more than 14 hours a day sitting down!

Our life styles have changed drastically over the last couple of hundred years.  Since the Industrial revolution, many people work indoors and children spend more time inside.  Add to this the recent scares surrounding skin cancer, sun damage to skin and the importance of sunscreen, there has been a significant reduction in the natural synthesis of Vitamin D through our skin.

Vitamin D was only discovered in the 1920s

From October to March we don’t make Vitamin D because of low levels of UVB in winter sunlight.  But most people should have built enough up during the summer months to last over the winter period.  However in the UK, we just don’t get enough sunshine!

Clever food manufacturers saw a marketing potential and a way to increase the value in their food and we are now seeing lots of foods fortified with Vitamin D.  Examples include breakfast cereals, milk, oils and spreads.  However these foods also contain lots of other un-helpful ingredients such as excess wheat, salt and sugar.  Both of which are be detrimental to bone health.

What is Vitamin D?

Also know as a prohormone, this fat based hormone is present in very few foods and is unique because the body can actually synthesise it when skin is exposed to adequate sunshine.

Who and why do we need it?

Vitamin D deficiency impairs the absorption of calcium and phosphorous in the body which is vital to bones and teeth.  It works alongside Calcium to help protect adults from Osteoporosis.

Without it we can’t absorb calcium!

Certain populations such as pregnant and breastfeeding women, young children, older people, black and ethnic minority groups and anyone at risk of inadequate sun exposure may require more Vitamin D.

Researchers in at the University of Minnesota found that Vitamin D levels in the body at the start of a low calorie diet predict weight loss success, suggesting a possible role for Vitamin D in weight loss and therefore linked to maintaining a healthy body weight.

The ability to make Vitamin D declines with age.  This combined with reduced sun exposure for older adults this cause a major deficiency

Obesity disrupts Vitamin D levels due to the fat cells storage of Vitamin D and the way it gets locked in the cell.  Low fat diets can also inhibit absorption of Vitamin D

What happens if we don’t get it?

Without Vitamin D our bones can become brittle and thin and in serious cases can lead to rickets in children and a condition called Osteomalacia (bone softening) in adults.  Osteoporosis can also be caused by low levels of the vitamin, while muscle weakness is another linked symptom.  Research has also shown that Vitamin D is also vital for improved immunity, nervous system and brain function.  It also has profound anti-cancer effects with some studies claiming (www.sciencedaily.com) adequate vitamin D could cut some cancers such as colon, breast and prostate cancer by over 50%

How do we get it?

Supplements (Vitamin D3 is best).  The department of health (www.dh.gov.uk) advises that some special populations could take 25 micrograms (0.025mg) or less per day.

Although a major factor in skin cancer, sun exposure is the main source of Vitamin D.  The amount of time needed it typically very short (little and often is best), although this changes from person to person and depends on the climate).  According to Professor Graham Bentham of the University of East Anglia just 20 minutes a day of exposure of the face and arms between April and October is enough to ensure your Vitamin D levels remain stable throughout the year.

Sunshine helps reduce cravings

Foods to eat are Fish oils, salmon, mackerel and Tuna fish being the highest sources.  Followed by beef, sardines and then egg yolk.

To improve your intake naturally here is a perfect Vitamin D busting day:

  • Mackerel and poached egg for breakfast
  • a 15 walk to work
  • lunch of seafood salad with olive oil
  • walk at lunch
  • Lean beef chilli with salad
  • get to bed by 10pm!

Big love, small tummies

Jill – The Fat Controller

 

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