Sunshine

Vitamin D: The sunshine vitamin

Although vitamin D is produced naturally by the body on exposure to sunlight, during autumn and winter the sun's UV rays aren't strong enough for the process to occur. For this reason, Public Health England recommends taking a vitamin D supplement every day once summer is over. This so-called sunshine vitamin is vital for maintaining healthy bones, teeth and muscles, and is also believed to play a role in immune function. Watch the short video below or read on to see the various ways vitamin D can support your health.



Recommended by experts

Public Health England recommends that everyone over the age of one year should take a daily supplement providing 10mcg vitamin D during autumn and winter. This is very much a minimum to prevent deficiency diseases 

Dr Sarah Brewer
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Mental Health

Some studies1 have found those suffering from depression to have worse symptoms if they are also vitamin D-deficient. Although there’s more research to do, it’s increasingly clear that, for many people, this supplement is essential.

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Exercise

A research study2 suggests there could be a link between sports performance and vitamin D levels. Increased vitamin D levels had an impact on the physical performance of both athletes and non-athletes in the study, and both groups found a significant improvement in their sprint time and vertical jump height.

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Heart Health

Recent studies suggest vitamin D could be a heart health super supplement. One study3 found men who were vitamin D-deficient had a significantly higher risk of a heart attack. Another suggested there was a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and increased heart failure.

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Bone Health

Vitamin D helps support the growth and development of healthy teeth and bones in young children, and is also important for the elderly. One study4 looked at the effects of vitamin D supplementation in combination with low-level exercise among the elderly, and found this combination was effective at reducing falls in elderly study participants.

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IBS

In the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition5, research found that not only are low vitamin D levels common in people with IBS, but there is also a link between symptoms and vitamin D levels. The higher a person’s vitamin D levels, the research suggested, the less likely they were to experience severe IBS symptoms.

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Fertility

If you want to start a family, it's important to make sure you're in the best of health. Research has found that low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased risk of complications in implantation and pregnancy, and that vitamin D deficiency must be treated in women who wish to have IVF and insemination.6

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References
1Husemoen, L.L.N., Ebstrup, J.F., Mortensen, E.L., Schwarz, P., Skaaby, T., Thuesen, B.H., Jørgensen, T., and Linneberg, A. (2016). Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and self-reported mental health status in adult Danes. European journal of clinical nutrition, 70(1), p.78
2Close, G.L., Russell, J., Cobley, J.N., Owens, D.J., Wilson, G., Gregson, W., Fraser, W.D., and Morton, J.P. (2013). Assessment of vitamin D concentration in non-supplemented professional athletes and healthy adults during the winter months in the UK: implications for skeletal muscle function. Journal of sports sciences, 31(4), pp.344-353
3Giovannucci, E., Liu, Y., Hollis, B.W., and Rimm, E.B. (2008). 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men: a prospective study. Archives of internal medicine, 168(11), pp.1174-1180
4Imaoka, M., Higuchi, Y., Todo, E., Kitagwa, T., and Ueda, T. (2016). Low-frequency Exercise and Vitamin D Supplementation Reduce Falls Among Institutionalized Frail Elderly. International Journal of Gerontology, 10(4), pp.202-206
5Williams, C.E., Williams, E.A., and Corfe, B.M. (2018). Vitamin D status in irritable bowel syndrome and the impact of supplementation on symptoms: what do we know and what do we need to know? European journal of clinical nutrition, p.1
6Chu, J., Gallos, I., Tobias, A., Tan, B., Eapen, A., and Coomarasamy, A. (2017). Vitamin D and assisted reproductive treatment outcome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction, 33(1), pp.65-80

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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