|Vitamin D - the Sunshine vitamin|
Vitamin D - the Sunshine vitamin26-May-2011, Andrew Thomas
You know I've been banging on about Vitamin D for a long time, and here's why. All you need to know about the wonder Vitamin from Andy at Better You. Try the wonderful Vitamin D spray that they do below.
Where's it from?
Vitamin D (D3 to be precise) is a hormone the human body makes from the skin’s exposure to direct sunlight. Only 10% of our optimum requirement can be obtained from food (oily fish and eggs). It is fat soluble and is stored for a short time within the body for continuous usage. The best absorbed alternatives will use vitamin D3 sourced from lanolin. Sheep’s wool is a fantastic source of natural D3. The vitamin is totally extracted so no lanolin remains.
Why do we need it?
It is essential for a healthy immune system and the body’s ability to absorb calcium into the bone. Calcium is virtually insoluble without sufficient vitamin D and magnesium. If these elements are not present in sufficient quantities in the body then calcium simply remains un-dissolved, settling in the soft tissue around the joints, in muscles and as cholesterol plaque in the arteries. Although we always link vitamin D deficiency to bone weakness and rickets, the significance of decreasing sun exposure has also been linked to the growth of illnesses such as diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, MS, heart problems and asthma.
Why are we not getting enough?
For the human skin to synthesise vitamin D it must be sufficiently exposed to direct sunshine (UVB rays). The main reason of course is that we live an environment which only has full sunlight for 35-50% of the time, the North of Britain fairs worse than the South unfortunately. The UK is the most cloudy country in the industrialized world and we are on the same northerly latitude as the Alaskan Panhandle and Labrador and we often forget this. We only experience sunshine strong enough for the human body to produce vitamin D for around 5-6 months of the year. The rest of the time we have to rely on our reserves and our diet. Unfortunately, even when the sun is out and strong enough, we live an increasingly internal lifestyle (especially children) and cover our skin when outdoors. Clothes, glass and sun-screen dramatically obstruct UVB exposure. In fact a sun-screen of 15 or more will effectively block any production of vitamin D. Our obsession with cleanliness can also be a factor. Vitamin D synthesis occurs within the skin and washing with detergent and exfoliation directly after sun exposure will reduce the amount of vitamin D produced.
How much do I need?
Vitamin D is measured in the blood using nanogrammes per milliliter (ng/ml) and the average UK levels are 32ng/ml during Summer months and 20ng/ml during Winter. However, the human body only starts storing vitamin D for future use when levels get above 40ng/ml. Therefore the average person in the UK only has enough vitamin D3 to maintain health for a very short time. This is why our immune system suffers so quickly once we lose the sunshine and the lowering Autumn sun brings coughs, colds, aches and pains. Ideal levels should be at least 40–60ng/ml year round. (100nmol/l-150nmol/l)
A useful guideline for quantities is that 3 minutes exposure of the human torso to equatorial sunshine produces around 1000iu. We all need vitamin D to stay healthy, even from birth. In fact a new born baby will have around 50-70% of the Mother’s level of vitamin D. If the Mother is deficient it is clear to see why we are seeing more and more children born with health issues that could have been prevented if the Mother had sufficient vitamin D. It’s an unfortunate fact that babies born in May have a higher propensity to suffer from heart and breathing difficulties, MS and diabetes than those born in November
BetterYou™ recommends a maintenance level of 1000iu per 25kg of body weight. New born babies under the age of 6 months should be supplemented 400iu. This is a maintenance dose and if a deficiency is found a higher dosage will be prescribed for a short period to rectify the situation.
Who should supplement vitamin D?
Well the answer is all of us but especially vegans, vegetarians, the young and elderly, during pregnancy and nursing, during illness or recuperating and those with darker skin pigmentation. People with darker skin living in the UK will require more supplementation than those with paler skin as they have a more effective protection to UV radiation. Religious clothing also increases UVB barriers.
Why an oral spray?
Sub-lingual absorption of vitamin D (again this should be the D3 form) is a faster method of supplementation than tablets. It is absorbed directly into the blood stream through the mucous membrane around and under the tongue, rather than relying on our digestive system (the efficiency of which is an increasing problem for those of us with Western diets). This is why the first choice for hospitals is IV drips or intra-muscular injections. The second fastest method of supplementation is an oral spray, ideally sprayed under the tongue. In fact Dr Charles Heard of the University of Cardiff has recently led a number of clinical trials proving the superior absorption of sub-lingual sprays over tablets and capsules.