Vitamin D - 'a pro-survival molecule
What fabulous weather we are having! Spring has certainly sprung and all week I've been hearing the lawnmowers buzzing as well as bumble bees in my own garden. In these uncertain times a bit of sun and fresh air can give us all a lift, not least because sunshine is the main source of Vitamin D for us. When the sun's rays hit our bare skin it produces vitamin D.
There are also some food sources of vitamin D including oily fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, also oysters, cottage cheese and eggs.
Research shows that Vitamin D plays a significant role in the function of our immune systems. Authors of a 2017 review of this vitamin comment "vitamin D not only helps the immune system to be dampened during an excessive or chronic reaction (anti-inflammatory potential) but also to rapidly reach its completion, helping innate cells to kill bacteria or viruses." It follows that maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D is important for supporting our body's ability to fight infection.
In addition to being a fantastic support for our immunity, vitamin D also helps maintain strong, healthy bones by retaining calcium.
We are most at risk of deficiency during the winter months and although we can build up a reserve throughout the summer, for most of us in Britain and similar climates it can be depleted by the end of the year, so it may be worth taking a supplement during the winter. Symptoms of deficiency can be joint pain/stiffness, back ache, hair loss, tooth decay, muscle cramps. Perhaps this is why many of us feel our aches and pains more throughout the winter, and our hair seems to grow quicker in the summer. As well as lack of sun causing deficiency, fried foods can deplete our levels of vitamin D.
Vitamins A and C (which I covered in my previous posts), together with vitamin E help protect our vitamin D.
Please do take advantage of this wonderful weather and the extra down-time that most of us are experiencing right now - take your full hour of outdoor exercise and get some sun on your skin. Keep safe too - 2 meters distance, hand-wash immediately you return home and don't allow yourself to get sunburn. Happy weekend!