The Sunshine Vitamin!
How lovely writing this week’s blog, having had a week of sunshine, and feeling that summer is finally here. Summer brings with it a new lease of life, as we begin to live in the outdoors, with new adventures to be had. What’s not to love!
As a nutritionist, I see how our bodies naturally adapt to the summer months with their longer nights and brighter mornings. Have you ever noticed how your mood naturally lifts in summer? Now don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that this is multi-factorial in answer, but a substantial amount of studies suggest that there is a direct correlation between Vitamin D and mental health and chronic illnesses, which we will discuss in this blog.
Vitamin D deficiency is common in the Westernised world, and is defined as a level less than 20ng/mL. The most accurate way of knowing whether you have a Vitamin D deficiency is through a Serum 25 – hydroxyvitamin D blood test.
What are the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?
The most prevalent symptoms are:
Persistent bone pain and muscle weakness
Cognitive impairment in older adults
Severe asthma in children
Let’s take a look at the many health benefits of Vitamin D
No doubt, you’re probably familiar with the role of vitamin D in promoting healthy bones, largely by promoting the absorption of calcium. If you have a vitamin D deficiency, particularly in your older years, it can lead to osteoporosis.
There is, however, mounting evidence that also links low levels of the vitamin to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, muscle and bone pain, and more seriously, cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, ovaries, esophagus and lymphatic system.
Which foods contain vitamin D?
Most foods, which contain vitamin D, only have small amounts, so it’s almost impossible to get what your body needs just from food. Food sources are:
Oily fish, which includes salmon, mackerel and sardines
Cereals fortified with vitamin D
How do I increase vitamin D levels?
My suggestion would be to start by including oily fish twice a week in your diet. Oily fish has many health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties so is a great place to start! See the recipe attached for a lovely mackerel pate, to enjoy on a couple of oatcakes or dipped in your crudités of choice, as a snack.
Boost your Vitamin D with this One Minute Mackerel Recipe
1 x 200g pack of mackerel fillet
2 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese
1 tablespoon of half-fat crème fraiche
Juice of 1 lemon
Pepper to taste
HOW TO MAKE
Pulse together in a food processor
Serve on oatcakes or crudités
Your body is designed to get the vitamin D it needs by producing it when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. The part of the sun’s rays that is important is ultraviolet B (UVB). 10-15 minutes maximum without sunscreen can be sufficient.
If in doubt, take a vitamin D supplement. They are available in both tablet and liquid form and can help keep your levels topped up all year round.
If you are interested in finding out more about your own Vitamin D levels and how to increase them please do get in touch.
Here’s to happy, healthy summer months! Enjoy x