Sunshine, lollipops and Vitamin D?

I have been MIA for the last 2 weeks and I do apologise but I took a wonderful holiday to Darwin to visit my sister and brother in law, and this little monster…

My adorable nephew…

Some time was also spent doing this by the pool….

And some more time doing this by the water….

For those who haven’t had the chance to visit Darwin there are some absolutely wonderful restaurants, and places to visit, as well as stunning weather, scenery and crocs!

How is this related to a blog about health you ask?? Well I was boosting my Vitamin D levels!

So, we all know Vitamin D can be made in our body from sunlight but how much do we make, and how much do we need? Lets have a look..

Vitamin D comes in a few forms of which D2 & D3 are what we focus on. D2 is synthetic and mass produced, and our body finds it very difficult to assimilate it. It is often made from irradiated fungus or horse urine.. mmmm. On the other had D3 is natural and other than from the sun we find it in animal products, lanolin and cod liver oil.

So this wonderful sunlight vitamin is made when UV-B rays hit our skin and activate cholesterols underneath the epidermis to form a precursor called calciferol. But wait! Cholesterols is bad isn’t it?? Well no, because we need it for these such processes! Have a look at the blog link for more info :) This means that if you are taking statin drugs that block all cholesterol, even the good one, you will have issues producing Vit D.

Once we have this calciferol precursor it travels through the bloodstream to the liver where it becomes Calcidiol, then travels again through the bloodstream to the kidneys to become Calcitriol – the active form. This process relies on both functioning liver and kidneys as well as Vitamin B3.

So when we sit in the sun how much do we get? Quite a lot actually! However this can only be stored in the body for 3 weeks, and if you are wearing SPF 8 or above, the absorption is reduced by 95%.. So whilst we live in a sunny country with a wonderful beach culture a lot of us are actually deficient, especially in winter, and to get the required amount at this time of year we would need to sit outside with arms, neck and face exposed for between 32-52 minutes a day!

The amount we required daily luckily isn’t very high – roughly 400  – 1000IU’s so during winter make sure you’re taking a lunch break, or check that your supplements contain the D3 version and you’ll get all the benefits. Being a fat soluble vitamin, if you are taking it as a supplement you need to make sure you have it with food containing some fat – however beware – some pharmaceutical companies are trying to bypass this and making capsules with oil already inside – the risk with this is that the oil in the capsule hasn’t been stored properly and is rancid.

So what does Vit D do? It is critical to bone health as it regulates the calcium levels, thus in infants with low Vitamin D the deficiency disease Rickets is seen. In adults it presents as all over weakness and muscle pain, as well as demineralising the bone, and causing osteoporosis. Vit D has also been shown to inhibit cancer growth as well as enhance normal cell growth.

S0.. Get away to Darwin in the winter and soak up some much needed sunshine! This winter seems never ending…

M xx

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