Spilling the tea on Vitamin D
This is why you should be taking the ‘sunshine’ vitamin everyday
In a year where more than ever before the strength of our immune systems was at the forefront of our minds, immune-supporting supplements such as vitamin D became a hot topic of conversation, and consumption.
The stats don't lie
In 2020 a UK Government report revealed that 30-40% of the UK population were deficient in vitamin D and Public Health England advised “everyone, particularly the elderly, those who don’t get outside and those with dark skin, should take a vitamin D supplement containing 10 micrograms every day”. Of course this advice came during a national lockdown when people were spending more time indoors and absorbing less natural sunlight, but actually even before Covid-19 robbed us of the sun, the UK had the lowest vitamin D levels in Europe - and we thought we were sun worshippers!
So why are the people at the top so obsessed with us getting more sunny D? Well, “it’s important for lots of functions, including bone health and immune system function” says Dr Federica Amati, and while we’ve all heard the horror stories about Vitamin D deficiency causing rickets in children, it’s not just bones that this nutrient powerhouse supports. As well as playing an important role in pregnancy and early life, Dr Federica Amati notes that without enough Vitamin D “we can become susceptible to viral infections and there are some studies that suggest an increased risk of depression and anxiety.” That means a daily dose of the sunny stuff can help to support thyroid health and a healthy pregnancy, promote a balanced gut and immune function and even influence brain development and function. Speak to any nutrition professional and they will tell you that if you’re only going to take one Vitamin supplement make it Vitamin D. And now we can see why.
The mind-mood connection
An interesting development into the role that Vitamin D plays has been research into its relationship with the brain. Research has shown that vitamin D receptors and metabolites are present throughout the brain which indicates that it could play a part in regulating our mood and our cognitive function. This is bolstered by the idea that Vitamin D also promotes good bacteria in the gut; we hold a lot of our emotions in the gut so it’s thought that by nurturing the good stuff in our gut we could also be helping to look after our mental well-being. Are you keeping up?
A fantastic book that explores this dynamic is 'The Mind-Gut Connection' by Emeran Mayer, MD
Let’s simplify it. Think about how you feel when you’re outside and the sun is hitting your face. My bet is, better than if you were sat inside in a dark room. Well, there’s actual science behind that. A recent study has shown that those with mood concerns often have lower levels of vitamin D. While research into the exact connection between vitamin D and mental well-being is still in its infant stage, some scientists are proposing that it could play a role in the regulation of serotonin and melatonin aka the ‘happy’ hormones. So, the sunshine vitamin could promote the happy hormone - makes sense, right?
If it’s available from the sun though, why do we need to take it as a supplement? There are foods that are rich in vitamin D, including mushrooms, oily fish and egg yolks says Dr Federica Amati but “our body isn’t very efficient at storing and releasing vitamin D. To keep levels constant, it’s important to ensure we take an effective dose of vitamin D supplement. Especially in the winter months when we are more exposed to viruses”. You'll find 1000IU (that's 25 micrograms) of vitamin D in every serving of Indi Body to ensure you're never lacking in this health-boosting nutrient.