Tips for boosting your vitamin D levels

Although the weather has unexpectedly brightened and warmed over the past few days, most of February has been cold and dull, meaning, excluding the lucky few who escaped into the winter sun over half term or at Christmas, the majority of us have seen little sunshine since the onset of winter.

Aside from the feel-good factor, sunshine is vital in keeping our bodies healthy through encouraging the production of vitamin D.

Often referred to as the 'sunshine vitamin' because it is made by the action of sunlight upon our skin, vitamin D is essential for healthy and strong bones and plays a key role in maintaining our immune system.

Last week the BBC published an article on the importance of vitamin D to our health and warned of the multiple risks of vitamin D deficiency.

Researchers claim that more than three million people suffer from colds or flu in the UK each year because they have low levels of the vitamin in their bodies; this is a particular concern during autumn and winter when sunlight is in short supply.

Without enough vitamin D bones can become thin and brittle, and in extreme cases this can lead to rickets in children and cause pain and muscle weakness in adults. With weaker immune systems we are also more susceptible to contracting viruses and will be slower at fighting them off.

Tips for boosting your vitamin D levels:

As most foods contain no or very little vitamin D naturally, we need to be selective in choosing food that is rich in nutrients if we are to rely on reaching our target levels of the vitamin through diet alone.

The best dietary source of vitamin D is oily fish (such as sardines, tuna, salmon, mackerel and trout) and cod-liver oil; eggs, liver, and wild mushrooms also contain small quantities of vitamin D.

Other common foods have had vitamin D purposely added to them, such as margarine, some cereals, and baby formula milk.

For people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, a baseline supplement capsule is the best way to boost levels of vitamin D. In fact, vitamin D experts advise that everyone over the age of one should take 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day, particularly from October to March.

Those in at-risk groups, such as the elderly, people with darker skin, and pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to take supplements all year round.

It is important we keep ourselves, and our children healthy, so we can make each day as productive as the last and the key could be adding a bit of vitamin D to your day.
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