Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin!
As a runner eating a healthy, balanced diet, I'd like to think I'm getting enough Vitamin D from being outdoors a lot and eating enough foods rich in Vitamin D. However, this week Government health advisers are urging everyone to eat more foods rich in Vitamin D, such as tuna, salmon and eggs, or take supplements, in order to triple their intake of vitamin D to reduce their risk of bone disease.
Sunshine, not food, is where most of your vitamin D comes from, so this advice relates particularly to the autumn and winter, when the sun is weaker, or to people who spend a lot of time indoors, or covered up.
What is Vitamin D?
A vitamin is something that helps our body function – a ‘nutrient’ – that we cannot make in our body. Vitamin D is different because even though we call it a vitamin, it is actually a hormone and we can make it in our body.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium for healthy bones and teeth. Even if you have a calcium-rich diet (for example from plenty of dairy foods and green leafy vegetables), without enough vitamin D you cannot absorb the calcium into your bones and cells where it is needed.
Vitamin D may have other important roles, for instance boosting the immune system, protecting against colds and fighting depression.
How much Vitamin D?
If you go out in the sun two or three times a week for at least 15 minutes (before applying sunscreen) in this period, your body will make enough vitamin D. During the winter, we get vitamin D from our body’s stores and from food sources.
Public Health England is advising that the average intake of vitamin D should rise from three micrograms a day to 10 micrograms to help protect people against both bone and muscle conditions, including rickets in children.
Apparently levels of vitamin D deficiency are the highest in 50 years, and one in five people has a severe deficiency.
For more information on this, check out the British Dietetic Association Fact Sheet or NHS Choices.
How can I boost my vitamin D?
Get outside! As much as possible. Feel the heat of the sun on your skin. Expose your skin to the summer sun for about 15 minutes or so each day before applying sunscreen (but be careful not to overexpose - the BDA recommends vitamin D supplements to those concerned about skin cancer and who always use a high sunscreen factor or cover up).
And eat plenty of these top #gofaster foods containing Vitamin D.
Top #GoFaster Foods Rich in Vitamin D...
1. Oily Fish - Salmon, tuna, mackeral, sardines, pilchards
Go Faster Recipe? Russian Blinis with Smoked Salmon
2. Foods fortified with vitamin D - some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, cereals
3. Liver (Especially Beef)
Try sauteeing chopped liver with garlic and thyme - DON'T overcook unless you like eating rubber!
4. Egg yolks
Go Faster Recipe? Hot Smoked Salmon Frittata - here you have a double-whammy of vitamin D with eggs and salmon!
5. Mushrooms (especially if they have been grown under UV lighting)
Go Faster Recipe? Three Grain Rice Risotto with Mushrooms from Go Faster Food
Try stir-frying with broccoli, spring onions, chilli, garlic, soy sauce and cashew nuts
7. Ricotta Cheese
Go Faster Recipe? Poached Nectarines with Vanilla Ricotta from Go Faster Food