Healthspan November 16, 2017

Barely a week goes by without vitamin D headlining the papers. But why? 

90% of vitamin D is made by the body on exposure to UVB sunlight. But the UV index in the UK in winter is below 3 and in order for your skin to react with sunlight to create vitamin D the UV index has to be higher than 3.

The facts

1. We’re not getting enough vitamin D

The average Western diet supplies 3mcg of vitamin D per day. Public Health England (PHE) now recommends all adults and children aged one and over need 10mcg of vitamin D per day. This along with the problem of a low UV index in winter is a recipe for failure.

2. Vitamin D is proven to cut the risk of colds and flu

Respiratory infections – things like flu, pneumonia and bronchitis are a huge problem in the UK with near to 70% of Brits getting a respiratory infection every year. Catching a lurgy from your co-worker or your kids is almost inevitable – especially when you remember a tiny drop containing the flu virus can survive for up to 24hours.

Respiratory infections are responsible for 300,000 hospitalisations and 38,000 deaths per year in the UK and a whopping estimated 2.65 million deaths worldwide were caused by them in 2013.

But a study by the British Medical Journal using researchers from Queen Mary shows a daily or weekly intake of vitamin D supplements could mean 3.25 million fewer people in the UK would suffer from a respiratory infection every year.

3. There are vitamin D foods out there, but not very many

There’s not many foods high in vitamin D – as you’ll soon see - but we’ve teamed up with Healthspan Head of Nutrition Rob Hobson to bring to you some delicious recipes including a sweet potato fish pie, mackerel kedgeree and mushroom and feta frittata, that will help you top up your daily intake.

Foods high in vitamin D:

  1. Oily fish: Cod liver oil, salmon (click here for a free sweet potato fish pie video recipe), mackerel (click here for a free mackerel kedgeree video recipe), tuna, sardines
  2. Raw milk
  3. Eggs (click here for a free mushroom and feta frittata video recipe)
  4. Mushrooms
  5. Fortified foods: butter, margarine

Countries globally – especially in Northern Europe where sunlight hours in the winter are very low – are succumbing to the benefits of fortifying foods with vitamin D. For us Brits lacking in vitamin D (precisely one in five people aged 19 to 64, one in six aged 65 and over, and children aged 11 to 18 in 2016), though, a supplement is recommended.

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