Vitamin D refers to a group of related fat-soluble vitamins and is vital for good health throughout our lives. It plays many roles in our bodies including aiding in bone mineralisation, muscle contraction, nerve conduction and helps regulate cell growth. Vitamin D affects several areas in the human body. Importantly, Vitamin D is essential for the absorption and use of calcium and phosphorus from the small intestine and is vital for normal mineralisation of bone.
The sun is the best natural source of vitamin D, but you need to balance sun exposure with skin cancer risk. Daily exercise also assists with the body’s production of vitamin D. Some people are at increased risk of low vitamin D – this includes people with naturally very dark skin and people who have very low exposure to sunlight.
There are small amounts of vitamin D in some foods such as fish, eggs and UV-irradiated mushrooms, but it is difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from diet alone. Most people only get five to 10 per cent of their vitamin D from food. Margarine and some types of milk have added vitamin D.
If you think you may have low Vitamin D levels, ask your general practioner for a blood test to check your serum levels. If your results come back showing low vitamin D, a supplement is the vital key to increase your levels.