It seems that low levels of vitamin D are being linked to a growing range of health problems. Research from Bristol University in the UK showed that pregnant women with higher levels of vitamin D had taller, stronger-boned children. Other research has suggested that lower levels of vitamin D in childhood could be linked to a greater risk of developing multiple sclerosis. Researchers have also linked insufficient vitamin D to heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, various forms of cancer, diabetes, and arthritis.
Vitamin D is sometimes known as the sunshine vitamin as we can manufacture it in our bodies when we are exposed to sunlight. Sunlight has been in short supply in Ireland in recent times, so now more than ever we need to look to the foods we eat to supply some vitamin D. Vitamin D is found in margarine, fortified breakfast cereals, dairy products, oily fish, and egg yolks. To get an adequate amount you should eat at least some of these foods every day.
Maybe the sun will come out this summer – just 20 minutes’ exposure of the face and arms to sunlight will keep your vitamin D levels stable. If you can’t do this then include some vitamin D-rich foods each day.
By Cara Cunningham, community dietitian. For more information on diet and nutrition, please contact the Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster at (044 ) 9353220 or email [email protected].