How to increase vitamin D is one of the most vital questions patients can ask their doctors. The question is becoming more important as research progresses.
Vitamin D plays an important function in the body to help absorb calcium and phosphorous. Both are needed for healthy, strong bones. The most common problems people may face when their levels of “D” are too low is osteomalacia. This is the softening of the bones, and that in itself can cause nasty symptoms such as pain and weakness. In children, this is known as rickets.
But it has more recently come to light that low levels of vitamin D are also associated with immune systems dysfunctions. Being associated with feeling tired more easily, along with catching coughs and colds regularly. Research is now also showing a connection between D-deficiency and feeling low in mood. Vitamin D receptors have been found in many parts of the brain, including those that are often linked to feelings of depression.
Here in Britain we tend to celebrate any moment the sun comes out, and so we should! Our clever bodies can create vitamin D all by themselves when our skin is exposed to enough sunlight. Unfortunately, sufficient sunlight is scarce here in the UK (especially when most of the day is spent indoors) and our bodies might just not get the right amount to create the level of “D’s” we need.
In order to get vitamin D, there is no need to tan the skin (and definitely don’t burn that lovely skin!), but expose bare skin to the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays for a period of time. Surprisingly it’s actually all about how the sun’s rays project onto the earth’s atmosphere. During wintertime, the sun rays come in at such an angle that our world’s atmosphere blocks most of the UVB rays and little vitamin D will be generated by the body.
Living near the equator (where the sun is often high in the sky with not much of an angle) results in UVB rays reaching the skin more easily, hence the increased vitamin D level production. Skin colour also has an impact. Pale skin makes vitamin D more quickly than darker skin types.
Lamps have been produced to let off UV-B radiation to help naturally increase vitamin D levels. When skin is exposed to UV-B radiation it mimics what would happen if the skin was exposed to natural sunlight. Safety and exposure to UV-B is a prime concern – it is recommended to spend no longer than 15 minutes under a UV lamp.
Then there is food that can be added to a diet to increase vitamin D levels. Sources of vitamin D can be found in oily fish, red meat, egg yolks, liver and in some fortified breakfast cereals.
Increasing vitamin D for vegetarians and vegans is harder. The majority of food for increasing vitamin D is found in non-vegan and vegetarian food. A high quality, vegan supplement can help to solve this problem. It’s worth noting, not all supplements are made equal. It is worth choosing quality over quantity.
The only vegetarian and vegan natural vitamin D source that can be found is mushrooms.
Similarly to humans, mushrooms can create and increase vitamin D levels on exposure to UV light. Mushrooms produce D2 a form of vitamin D, with humans producing a vitamin D type, D3.
There is importance in the type of mushrooms humans can eat, certain varieties, for example, Maitake mushrooms provide nearly 300% of the RDI per portion.
It’s possible to increase vitamin D levels of your mushrooms by putting store-bought mushrooms in sunlight. As mentioned it creates more vitamin D2 on exposure to the UV rays.
So there you have it, a whole bunch of ways to get your D’s! Which option(s) are you going to explore?