In years gone by, vitamin D deficiency was a major concern in children, as unfortunate conditions such as rickets or malformation of the bones prevailed during the nineteenth century. However, research has suggested that cases of rickets are now becoming more commonplace as we continue to spend more and more of our time indoors. In fact, vitamin D deficiency is now even being linked to chronic diseases, such as MS, diabetes and even mental health conditions like, schizophrenia.
It is speculated that this is due to a vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women, especially those who give birth during the winter months. Professor Ebers, a renowned scientist of Oxford University’s Department of Clinical Neurology, supports this hypothesis, going so far state that
MS is associated with end of winter births, when shortage of sunshine is demonstrable and vitamin D levels are lowest. This suggests, in line with other observations, that vitamin D protects against the disease.
Getting enough vitamin D then, is crucial, but how do we go about boosting our intake of this vitamin?
How to get your daily dose of vitamin D
The NHS tells us that on average, adults (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should be getting around 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. This can be tricky though – not every country enjoys the same levels of sun exposure found in Australia or Brazil, and vitamin D can be difficult to source from our food.
This shouldn’t be a cause for concern though, as there are still options available to ensure that we get our daily dose of vitamin D.
#1 – Try supplements: Supplements are a very effective way of ensuring that you get your daily dose of vitamin D. The nutrient can only be found in certain food products, some of which are off-limits to those with certain dietary requirements, like vegans or vegetarians. A good supplement, taken once every day, can make sure your levels of vitamin D don’t start to wobble as the week progresses, nourishing your bones and strengthening your immune function.
There are a range of vitamin D supplements out there, but if you really can’t be bothered with popping pills or forcing your child to swallow a capsule, you could try BetterYou’s range of oral vitamin D sprays. Administered under the tongue or on the inside of your cheek, BetterYou sprays are convenient and easy to take on the go, at work or first thing in the morning.
#2 - Soak up the sun: Getting the most out of the weather can be difficult, especially in the midst of a typical British summer or if you have to mull through the usual Scottish winter. Nevertheless, it is still important that you make an effort to get yourself outside when it is sunny, so that you can soak up the vitamin D. How much time you may need to spend in the sun can vary depending on your skin tone; however, making a conscious effort to protect your skin during this time is vital. UV light may allow you to synthesise vitamin D, but it can also destroy the healthy skin cells on your outer layer of skin, leading to sunburn and, in more serious cases, skin cancer.
#3 - Have a little fish: Fish, as well as being rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, is a great source of vitamin D. The best types of fish to go for are usually salmon, mackerel, canned trout or canned tuna – the oilier, the better! Try to incorporate more of these into your diet, especially during the colder, winter months when sunlight is sparse. If you can stomach it and endure the taste, cod liver oil is also saturated with vitamin D, with just one tablespoon containing more than twice of your daily vitamin D allowance!
#4 - Eat your eggs: The good news is that eggs, or rather egg-yolk, are a brilliant way of injecting some vitamin D into your diet. Although one portion isn’t likely to give you your daily amount, if you integrate eggs into your diet alongside other vitamin D rich foodstuffs, it can go a long way towards getting you up to speed on your daily intake.
#5 - Fortify your foods: Some specialised, low-fat cereals are fortified with vitamin D, enriching your diet with a steady intake of the nutrient. Not all milks, but some are also imbued with the vitamin, which in addition to the cereal can also give your daily dosage a nice little kick-start first thing in the morning, or as a wholesome snack.