If you want healthy bones, teeth and muscles then make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.
It’s found naturally in oily fish; red meat; liver; fortified foods such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals; and egg yolks. Hence the recipe this week is Spinach and Cheese Eggs Cups. You can also check out this tasty salmon recipe.
Your primary source of vitamin D is from getting sunlight on your skin. It’s difficult to get the recommended amount of vitamin D from food alone.
So go get yourself some fresh air and vitamin D. However, in the UK this is only good advice from around late March/early April to the end of September.
During this time most of us get enough vitamin D from a healthy, balanced diet combined with sunlight on our skin. But during a UK winter, it’s a different story…
During the UK winter months (October to early March), the sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB for our skin to make vitamin D. So we may have to rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources and supplements.
Should You take Vitamin D supplements?
As a nutrition and weight-loss coach, I advise clients on suitable food sources to obtain various vitamins and minerals.
However, the UK government has issued new vitamin D recommendations “to ensure that the majority of the UK population has satisfactory vitamin D blood levels throughout the year”.
Some groups of the population are at greater risk of not getting enough vitamin D, and should take daily vitamin D supplements.
The majority of people probably get enough vitamin D between early April to the end of September so may not choose to take a vitamin D supplement during this time. But it is advised to consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D.
For more information on recommended amounts for these groups see NHS Vitamin.
Risk of vitamin D deficiency
Some people and I reckon I’m included, won’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure.
I’m desk-bound during the working week and drive to the gym most days. I do try to get out in the fresh air to clear the cobwebs but probably not as often as I should.
And during the summer months, I slap on the sun cream.
Recommendations are to take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D throughout the year if you aren’t often outdoors or usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors.
A lack of vitamin D can cause bones to become soft and weak.
How long should we spend in the sun?
Most people can make enough vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March or early April to the end of September, especially from 11am to 3pm.
But how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D? The answer to this will depend on a number of factors. For example, how much skin you have exposed or your skin colour.
Do be careful not to get sunburnt. Always cover up, or use sunscreen, before your skin starts to turn red or burn.
What happens if you take too much vitamin D?
Taking too many vitamin D supplements over an extended period can cause too much calcium to build up in the body. This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
For most people taking vitamin D supplements, 10mcg a day will be enough.
This advice is different for infants, children and individuals with some medical conditions (click on the vitamin D link above for more information).
As a nutrition and weight loss coach, I love to help and encourage you with your healthy-eating goals.
I firmly believe that with a little food knowledge and a positive mindset you can achieve your goals. And Nutritional Bites is a good place to find the tools, tips and advice that you need.
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Egg yolk are a good source of vitamin D. These Spinach and Cheddar Egg Cups come in at around 65 calories so make a great healthy snack. Or serve a couple along with a side salad for a tasty lunch.
Please note: this is not meant to be a prescriptive post, and your personal health requirements should be taken into account before implementing any of the guidelines above.