Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, vitamin D deficiency across the Irish population has been a topical conversation. As a result, a lot more of us have started supplementing with vitamin D, particularly after hearing its importance for immune health, as well as it's potential to protect against respiratory illnesses. However, many still wonder why exactly such a large proportion of us are deficient in vitamin d in the first place.
In this article, you can find:
- What is the connection between vitamin D and the sun?
- Are there any other ways to get vitamin D?
What is the connection between vitamin D and the sun?
Vitamin D is a unique type of vitamin as it acts more like a hormone than a dietary aid since the body can synthesize it from cholesterol after the skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun. 80-90% of our vitamin D is sourced primarily from the sun. However, it is seasonal and cannot be made during the winter, while the amount made in the summer is subject to sunshine, weather, and other factors. It can only be produced from 10-15 minutes of daily sun exposure from late March to late September in Ireland. Almost half the Irish population is deficient in vitamin D. Since many of us have been spending more time indoors recently, this number could increase further.
Are there any other ways to get vitamin D?
Vitamin D can also be found in some foods. This includes mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring, tuna, red meat, liver, fortified foods (breakfasts cereals, dairy products, orange juice, infant formulas), egg yolks, and mushrooms that have been grown in ultraviolet light (shiitake mushrooms, portobello mushrooms).
The best way to ensure that you are receiving the recommended intake of vitamin D is through supplementation.
- EHRLICH, G. (2010). Sunshine and Vitamin D. A Comprehensive Guide to the Benefits of the "Sunshine Vitamin." The Journal Of Rheumatology, 37(2), 475-475. DOI: 10.3899/jrheum.091173.
- Mason, R., Sequeira, V., & Gordon-Thomson, C. (2011). Vitamin D: the light side of sunshine. European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 65(9), 986-993. DOI: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.105.
- Vitamins and minerals - Vitamin D. (2021). Retrieved 14 July 2021, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/.
- Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms & Treatment. (2021). Retrieved 21 July 2021, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15050-vitamin-d--vitamin-d-deficiency.