Everything You Need To Know About Vitamin D

Eli Brecher Nutritionist

Everything You Need To Know About Vitamin D

Did you know that everyone in the UK is advised to supplement with 10mcg vitamin D in the winter months, when we don’t get enough sunlight to meet our requirements?

In this post I’ll break down:

  • what is vitamin D
  • where is vitamin D found in the diet
  • who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency
  • why is vitamin D important for our health
  • how vitamin D is linked with mental health and depression

Are you concerned you may not be getting enough nutrients in your diet? If you’re interested in improving your nutrition and your health, head to Consultations to see how I can help you start your journey to the healthiest version of yourself today!

Eli Brecher Nutritionist

Where is Vitamin D found in the diet?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which is a type of vitamin most abundant in high fat foods and is better absorbed into the bloodstream when eaten with fats, similarly to vitamins A, E and K.

Vitamin D is produced by our bodies when directly exposed to sunlight, but can also be obtained from supplements or certain foods like oily fish, including mackerel and sardines, egg yolks, red meat and liver. Vitamin D is added to some foods too, known as fortification, including breakfast cereals, plant milks, fat spreads and some mushrooms have even been enriched with vitamin D by being exposed to direct sunlight.

Do you need a Vitamin D supplement?

Everyone in the UK is advised to take a 10mcg supplement between October – March, when we don’t get enough sunshine to meet our needs. This should be enough for the general population, although certain sub-groups would benefit from a higher dose and supplementing year round such as those at risk of vitamin D deficiency – this should be discussed with a healthcare professional.

It’s important to note that everyone’s nutritional requirements will be different, which is why I take a personalised approach with all of my 1:1 clients and tailor each nutrition plan to their unique needs and goals.

Who is at a higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency?

Those at a higher risk of deficiency include elderly people, especially if they spend lots of time indoors and aren’t exposed to sunlight, as vitamin D helps the body to effectively absorb and use calcium so it is essential for maintaining bone health, preventing bone fractures and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. 

In addition to the elderly, those with darker skin require more UVB exposure than those with lighter skin to generate the same amount of vitamin D from the sun. This is due to a substance called melanin which makes the skin dark. To avoid spending too much time in the sun, they may there’s benefit from topping up their vitamin D levels with a supplement.

What are some of the functions and benefits of Vitamin D?

Vitamin D helps the body absorb phosphorus and supports normal immune system function, reduces the risk of diseases like multiple sclerosis and heart disease, may make severe flu and Covid-19 infections less likely and some research has even found it could help with weight management.

One study found that people with obesity who received vitamin D supplements in addition to following a weight loss diet plan lost more weight and fat than those who followed the diet plan alone, and another found that extra calcium and vitamin D can help regulate our appetites. Whilst supplementing with vitamin D will unlikely be the answer to losing weight, this highlights the importance of looking after all aspects of our nutrition, even vitamin and mineral requirements, to meet our individual health goals.

What’s the link between Vitamin D and mental health?

As well as supporting bone health, dental health and our immune systems, research suggests that vitamin D can actually help boost our mood.  

Depression is a common mental illness, triggered by the interaction of social, psychological and biological factors that have a significant impact on an individual’s life. It is prevalent worldwide across all ages, genders and races and increases our risk of a number of diseases and conditions, like strokes, cardiovascular events, and lifestyle-related disorders like diabetes and high blood pressure. Despite being a well-studied disease with several forms of treatment, its prevalence is increasing, especially among older adults.

Research has linked vitamin D deficiency to depression, especially in older adults. Research indicates that supplementation in depression patients already suffering from deficiency can lead to a reduction in depressive scores and improvements in mood. Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels, especially in the elderly, has been flagged as an important issue to help prevent both deficiency and depression in those at risk. 

Further clinical trials are needed as research is somewhat conflicting and is not currently strong enough to recommend universal supplementation in depression patients. Nevertheless, this is an interesting area of research to follow and highlights the importance of supplementation in those at risk of deficiency, for reasons far beyond bone health!

  

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26998791/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6970300/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30246883/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/calcium-plus-vitamin-d-supplementation-and-fat-mass-loss-in-female-very-lowcalcium-consumers-potential-link-with-a-calciumspecific-appetite-control/623D71E0A965E910C48903089FA7B56C

 

This is just a small insight into the types of things I discuss with my 1:1 clients. If you’re looking to optimise your nutrition, transform your health and elevate your quality of life, please get in contact via Consultations or book a FREE 15-minute call and let’s chat about how I can help.  

 

Did you find this post useful? If so please share it with others! For more nutrition tips and healthy recipes, check out my Instagram @elibrechernutrition

This blog post was written by Jasmine Bliss, a Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr). 

Check out my other nutrition-related blog posts below:

 

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