The sunshine vitamin D

Vitamin D is frequently referred to as the 'sunshine vitamin', as it is manufactured by human skin exposed to the sun. For this to take place we need sufficient levels of cholesterol in the body. Vitamin D3 is the form our bodies produce naturally.

The major biological function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. It also plays a key role in boosting the immune system. In particular it triggers and arms the body’s T-cells, the cells in the body that seek out and destroy invading bacteria and viruses. Recently, research suggests vitamin D may provide protection from osteoporosis.

Summer sunlight increases brain serotonin levels more than twice as much as winter sunlight, affecting mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD ) is prevalent when vitamin D stores are typically low. Many people with SAD find the mood-elevating effects of vitamin D beneficial. Vitamin D is widely involved in brain function with nuclear receptors for vitamin D localised in neurons.

Common food sources of vitamin D include fish oil, eggs, butter, and cheese. It is well recognised that people living in Ireland do not get enough vitamin D as the main source is sunlight, the above foods providing very little. We do not get enough vitamin D from diet alone. Vitamin D is available in supplemental form from birth upwards, from 200IU (international units ) up to 5000IU. Most vitamin D in supplement form is taken from the lanolin in sheep's wool; however for vegans Viridian vitamin D is sourced from lichen, and is also certified organic.

To convert international units to milligrams for vitamin D, divide IU potency by 40. Therefore 1000IU equates to 25 micrograms.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is therefore best absorbed in the presence of fats.

Udos's Oil is perhaps the most recommended blend of organic fatty acids, including all the Omegas. Au Naturel is currently offering €5 off 500ml bottles right now until stocks last.

For more information contact Susan in Au Naturel, Irishtown, Athlone, on (090 ) 6487993.

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