Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide issue that effects even those of us living in Malta. Studies have shown that a genetic factor may also be responsible for some of us being deficient in this important vitamin. See here
Vitamin D is essential for:
- Absorption and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus
- Maintaining healthy bones and teeth
- A healthy immune system
- Normal muscle function
- Helps to maintain normal blood calcium levels
The major source of vitamin D is produced when our skin is exposed to UVB sun rays. These rays are absorbed by cholesterol in the skin and are then synthesised into Vitamin D. Fearing skin damage caused by high UVB and UVA in summer, we use high factor sun protection hindering our skin from producing Vitamin D. In Winter UVB has to be higher than 3.
Food sources of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is found mainly in eggs, dairy and oily fish. For a vegan source, Button and portobello mushrooms and fortified nut milks and cereals are good sources. To reach the daily required amount, large quantities of vitamin D rich foods have to be eaten.
Sources of vitamin D supplements
Plant sources such as mushrooms produced under UV light make the D2 form of the vitamin. This Vitamin D2 is used to fortify dairy-free milks and cereals and in some supplements. Lichen, small algae-like plants that have been exposed to UV rays produce vitamin D3. Lanolin from sheep wool is also used for vitamin D3, however this is not suitable for vegans.
Vitamin D2 and D3 are not equal when it comes to raising vitamin D levels as the liver metabolises them differently. Vitamin D2 yields less calcifediol than D3, making it inferior when it comes to raising blood levels with one study finding that vitamin D3 was twice as effective at increasing vitamin D levels than D2 supplements.
What should you do?
It is important to know your level of vitamin D especially if you have been suffering from constant colds, feel tired often or feel weak. A simple blood test will determine your level of Vitamin D. Ask your GP for details.
Natures Aid liquid vitamin D3 and tablets (Made from Lichen. Suitable for Vegans) see products here
Better You Vitamin D3 oral sprays (Made from Lanolin. Suitable for vegetarians) See products here