Vitamin D: To Supplement or Not To Supplement?

In the past year vitamin D has started to come out of the wood work, people are becoming more confused about why vitamin D is important, whether we really should be concerned about deficiency and whether or not we should supplement?

In this post I aim to clear up some of these questions and to set the record straight. First I just want to discuss my relationship with vitamin D, It's a love hate relationship as my masters research project was centred around this very vitamin (and so I could talk for ages about it but I'll try and keep it short)!

Question 1: 
Why Is Vitamin D Important? Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones as it increases the absorption of calcium. Low vitamin D may lead to brittle bones in the long term. Vitamin D plays a role in brain functioning and mood, muscle function and strength and blood pressure regulation. Recent research suggests vitamin D may be vital in ensuring healthy immune function. 

Question 2:
Should We Be Concerned About Deficiency?
Vitamin D is the only vitamin which our bodies can produce themselves. We produce it from sunlight. Research suggests many of us in the UK are deficient. Unfortunately, in England we can only produce it between April and September (as this is when the sun is at an appropriate distance) which means that the rest of the year we rely on our stores or through our diets.  However, unfortunately vitamin D is difficult to obtain through the diet as there are very limited sources. Sources include: shitake mushrooms, eggs and oily fish. 

Question 3:
Should We Supplement? For those of you who know my views on nutrition, you'll know that I often recommend getting our nutrients through our food where possible. However, this time I do recommend supplementing, but only between October and March. For the rest of the year I suggest you get out a little bit, expose yourself to 10-20 minutes of sun a day (without sun cream) to enable your bodies to generate vitamin D. 
The current guidelines suggest we should consume 10ųg a day, however, not all of this will be absorbed and so ideally you should consume around 25ųg a day to ensure you're fully replete. 

In conclusion, vitamin D is essential in ensuring optimal functioning of many bodily functions. We should be cautious of becoming deficient and therefore we should supplement with 25ųg of vitamin D a day throughout October to March. 

Anymore questions related to vitamin D? Drop me an email jennahope@jennahopenutrition.com or comment below.