Vitamin D is one of the few vitamins that is not predominantly obtained from our diet, as it is mostly created in the body from exposure to sun. Given that we are at the end of summer you would expect our levels should be optimal for going into the winter months. However, given the power of the New Zealand sun sensible Kiwi’s will have been busy with the sunscreen, which means many people in this country may have missed out on topping up on their vitamin D levels. Going into winter is it a problem if our vitamin D levels are not at optimal levels? What does this vitamin do for us?
There are actually 3 key areas where vitamin D has an important role. These are in bone health, immune support and mental wellness.
1. BONE HEALTH
This is probably the most known role that vitamin D has in the body. It does this by supporting the absorption of calcium (one of the key minerals used by the body for building bones) through the digestive system and the kidneys. It also supports the binding of calcium into new bone. Deficiency of vitamin D can result in a reduction of calcium absorption by up to 80%.
2. MENTAL HEALTH
Studies have shown that vitamin D levels during the winter months are important for supporting positive mood and scientists believe that these benefits come from Vitamin D’s importance for brain function. There are numerous Vitamin D receptors in the brain, and many have been found in areas that govern mood.
3. IMMUNE SUPPORT
Vitamin D has been shown to support our body in its immune response to invaders. This is done via a number of different actions in the body, such as supporting production of cathelicidin and defensins. It also helps support our immune and upper respiratory systems.
In order to make sure we maintain our levels of this important vitamin there are some foods that should be included in our diet on a regular basis such as oily fish like salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and tuna, egg yolks and organ meats.