Did you know that approximately 1 billion people worldwide suffer from insufficient levels of vitamin D? This makes it one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin D is often known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ and is closely involved with the regulation of essential minerals, like calcium and phosphorus. Without vitamin D, our bodies would be unable to properly absorb calcium, causing our bones to become malleable and brittle.
Why are vitamin D deficiencies so common?
The NHS recommends that adults need around 10mcg of vitamin D a day1 but it’s estimated that 1 billion people worldwide aren’t getting this essential intake.1 Closer to home here in the UK, the picture doesn’t get much brighter. Approximately 20% of the population aren’t getting a sufficient intake of vitamin D which could be due to a variety of factors.2
The most obvious obstacle to getting our recommended daily intake (RDA) is arguably the weather. Britain is notorious for its damp summers and dark winters and, considering that sunlight is your body’s primary way of synthesising vitamin D, this can be problematic. What doesn’t help this gloomy forecast is that office jobs are now extremely prevalent which means that in winter, most of us will go to work and return home in the dark.
Combine these issues with the rising popularity of a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle (vitamin D is more widely available in animal-derived foods) and you have a recipe for deficiency! That’s why we are creating awareness and outlining 5 fantastic reasons why you need more vitamin D and how you can obtain it.
1 - Vitamin D enhances your immune function
Looking after you immune system should be a priority and this is where vitamin D might be able to help.
There are vitamin D receptors all over your body, from your intestines to your brain to your immune cells. When it comes to these cells (over 70% of which are located in your gut!), vitamin D can play a role in activating your T cells.3 T cells are a type of immune cell that hunts down and eliminates germs and other pathogens so they’re pretty important when it comes to fending off viruses and infections.
A study published in the British Medical Journal also seems to back this up, finding that vitamin D supplementation could be useful in preventing respiratory tract infections such as colds, flus and bronchitis.4 So, if you’re looking to enhance your immune function, it may be a good idea to start looking at how you can increase your vitamin D intake!
2 - Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to IBD
When it comes to IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), sufferers often exhibit low levels of vitamin – one study found that out of 965 patients, 20% had low vitamin D levels!5 This has led to speculation that the two could be connected – after all, there are vitamin D receptors in your gastrointestinal tract too.
It seems that Vitamin D may actually play a role in moderating your immune system’s inflammatory reactions which would definitely be good news for IBD and other inflammatory digestive problems. According to studies, vitamin D supplementation can help to block TNF, a cell-signalling protein that is involved with inflammation.6
Another study, this time published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, found that patients who received vitamin D replacement experienced fewer problems overall.7 Although further research is still needed, so far the results do seem to suggest that vitamin D could help to support IBD sufferers!