As the darkness of winter slowly consumes us and our exposure to the sun gets less and less it’s important to remember that we are not necessarily getting all the Vitamin D that we need. It would be very hard to say how much time we need to spend in the sun to get optimal Vitamin D synthesis as it depends where in the world you are, the lightness or darkness of your skin, and how much you need as an individual, however in midday summer sun it seems that we would need somewhere around 10 – 20 minutes.
Well, its winter, its dark and many of us work indoors. It’s safe to assume that were not going to be synthesising enough Vitamin D from the Sun for optimal health. The best dietary sources of Vitamin D are from fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring (oily fish) and eggs, so if your vegan or vegetarian you may be at higher risk of deficiency.
Vitamin D is involved in an incredible number of processes and so as a result is very important in the healthy maintenance of numerous systems and therefore the lack of it will be key in many disease processes.
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A huge part of the population are deficient in essential vitamin D – Modern lifestyles mean we just don’t get the level of Vitamin D from the sun that our bodies are designed to obtain. Dietary sources are minimal and a frightening proportion of society is Vitamin D deficient.
The health benefits of Vitamin D are both preventative and reparative – Individuals with a suitable level of Vitamin D in their diet and those who supplement are typically much better equipped to fight off colds and ailments. There are links to preventing many types of diseases by consuming adequate amount of Vitamin D. It also has reparative properties and often high levels of Vitamin D3 are given to patients during treatment to recover from different illnesses and diseases associated with Vitamin D deficiency. Vegetarians and Vegans are at high risk of deficiency – Oily fish is the most common dietary source of Vitamin D. This is of course missing from the diets of Vegetarians and Vegans in particular, hence why supplements are strongly recommended.
Individuals with darker skins living in cold climates are even more at risk of deficiency –The darker the skin the higher the risk of Vitamin D deficiency, as these skin types are naturally better at blocking out UV rays and therefore reducing the body’s natural ability to produce Vitamin D.
It seems more than likely that many of us are not getting enough Vitamin D on a daily basis and it’s been demonstrated that this is the case. Those of us who have optimal Vitamin D levels are at significantly reduced risk of many serious disease. The question is then how much do we need. Well the only way to know for sure is to get a test as we can have dramatically different requirements. One person may need only a small amount to get therapeutic effect whilst another may need what would look like a mega dose.
Dr Mercola has written and extensive article on the subject so I refer to his work:http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/10/10/vitamin-d-experts-reveal-the-truth.aspx