Sunshine =Vitamin D

This fact might shock you...with such a high exposure of the sun in Africa, would you believe that a high percentage of the people have vitamin D deficiency? Here is another scary fact-Those who are overweight have an even greater chance to be deficient! I will explain the reason why shortly, so stay with me. Sadly, this Vitamin D deficiency is linked with increased risks of developing common cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, and various infectious diseases, too. Ladies and gentlemen, the importance of this vitamin cannot be ignored. Let us first understand what vitamins are in general and their role in our bodies.

The main vitamins that the body needs are A, B group, C, D, E and K. Vitamins occur naturally in all living things, and are therefore organic. Their role within the body is to:

·         Regulate certain bodily functions

·          Help in the building of body tissues, bones and blood

·         Help the body metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins which enables the body to obtain energy from the food we eat

There are two kinds of vitamins:

·         Fat soluble vitamins

·         Water soluble vitamins

Now back to Vitamin D which is a fat soluble vitamin and is stored in the liver and fatty tissues. If the body has more of a fat soluble vitamin than it needs at any one time, the vitamin can be stored in the body fat and the liver for use when it is needed at a later date. Here is the reason why obese people have a high deficiency in vitamin D. This is solely because Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means that increased body fat has the ability to absorb Vitamin D and keep it from being used within our body. So if you are obese, this fact alone should tell you that it’s a high time you dropped that body fat

 Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, so it is vital for bone and tooth health. In recent times it has also been found to have a significant role in regulating cell growth, supporting immune function and the production of insulin. It is also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as the most common and natural source of vitamin D is sunlight.

 Many of us assume that the best way to acquire Vitamin D is through nutrition- drinking milk, eating fish, or even taking supplements like cod liver oil. However, direct exposure to the sun is actually the best way to absorb Vitamin D. People at risk from a vitamin D deficiency include those who do not go outside very much, or cover most of their body with clothing while they are outside. I am aware that many women (me included) wear sunscreen when they go for walks in the morning and/or afternoon because they fear the effects of direct sunlight on their beautiful skin. If you really have to wear sunscreen on your face and hands, then ensure your limps are exposed so as to absorb enough sunlight.  

 The other category of people at risk from a vitamin D deficiency is those who restrict their diet not to include liver or oily fish. (Be aware that too much liver can result in an overdose of vitamin A.) In children, a deficiency in vitamin D can result in rickets (soft bones) due to the lack of calcium absorption in the body. In adults, vitamin D deficiency may contribute to osteomalacia, which can lead to Osteoporosis (fragile and brittle bones from loss of tissue)

 How much vitamin D does the body require you may ask? There is contention amongst Experts regarding the recommended intake levels and blood serum levels. However, the RNI(Reference Nutrient Intake) is around 0.01mg/day or 400IU (International Units), others say  600IU/day.  There is no way to know the exact amount that’s best for you without a blood test and that’s why I highly recommend you get tested. When you visit the doctor, please request for the 25-hydroxoyvitamin D test done, sometimes also referred to as the 25-OH vitamin D test-it is the most accurate blood test to measure how much vitamin D is in your body.

 When your doctor performs a blood test and gives you the results for your Vitamin D levels, keep these numbers in mind:

·         50+ equals a good level of Vitamin D

·         30-50 means that you will want to be supplementing Vitamin D, working on spending more time in the sun and adding in Vitamin D rich foods to your diet.

·         Less than 30 means that you are very deficient and you will definitely want to take immediate action to bring those levels up!

 I hope you now know how important this vitamin is and if you are obese, I wish you all the best as you shed off that body fat- let us know if you need any tips.

 Here is great tip you can use to know if the sun is creating Vitamin D in your skin: look at your shadow when outside and if you see that it’s shorter than you are; this means that the sun is high enough in the sky and strong enough to convert Vitamin D in your skin!

 Goodbye indoors, hallo outdoors!