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Yesterday, researchers in Trinity College and St James Street hospital released a study that showed 13% of adults in the greater Dublin area are vitamin D deficient.
We’ve known for years that Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets – a disease of low bone mineralization causing bowed out legs in kids. Hence the above photo taken in a block of flats in London in the 1930s! The idea was to ensure that babies got some daylight in their early months. Can you imagine what the HSE would say about that if you fitted one of these to your house (we are really not suggesting you do!!).
Vitamin D from sunlight
This time of year, as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it’s hard to get your vitamin D fix. The most effective way to get vitamin D is through direct sunlight. There are a lot of factors at play, but as a general rule, if you have light coloured skin, you need approx. 15 minutes of direct sunlight on your skin for your daily vitamin D needs. Darker skin can take a lot longer – up to 2 hours.
What’s vitamin D good for anyway?
Vit D plays a role in calcium absorption and in that way benefits our bones. It is also linked to lower rates of breast, prostate and bowel cancers. It can lower your blood pressure, reduce diabetes and heart attack risk.
Vitamin D plays a strong role in regulating the immune system. In persons with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD – Crohn’s or Colitis) Vitamin D deficiency occurs in 82% of patients.
Research has also shown that the further away from the equator you go, the more likely you are to suffer from a range of auto-immune diseases. What has made this worse is our modern lifestyles, where we tend to be indoors most of the time and a general fear of the sun because of the threat of skin cancer. Skin cancer is a problem because we get almost no sunlight much of the time, then we go on holiday and bake ourselves for 2 weeks in a bid to get a tan. The best way to get sunlight is little and often. Now we can achieve our daily dose in Ireland easily enough in June, July and August, but what about the rest of the year?
Well, vitamin D is one of only 2 supplements that I personally take. I prefer to get my nutrients in whole form in foods, but with vitamin D that isn’t possible.
A review of clinical trials concluded that taking vitamin D supplements could reduce your overall mortality risk by as much as 11%. In context, that’s about the same as exercise – so a significant benefit.
Your tweak for the week – take vitamin D supplement for the winter months
Vitamin D supplementation is an easy, cheap fix. You need to take D3 (not D2) and around 2000iu per day for the average person. Also, you don’t need to do it all year round if you get outside during the summer months.
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