Five things you may not know about Vitamin D

1. Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones/teeth

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the food you eat, which is important for normal bone growth and development. The main source of Vitamin D is sunlight and it is only found in a small number of foods including red meat, egg yolks and oily fish.

It can be difficult to achieve the recommended intakes from natural sources alone, particularly in months of low sunlight so it might be worth considering a dietary supplement. 

2. Got little ones? Vitamin D is also needed for normal growth and development of bones in children

Children's bones keep growing throughout childhood. They grow fastest of all very early in life and when your child goes through puberty. Of course, building strong bones in childhood requires a range of vitamins and minerals. But did you know it’s not just Calcium that is particularly important for building strong healthy bones? Vitamin D is important for bones because it helps our bodies to absorb this Calcium effectively.[1] 

3. Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system

Scientists from the University of Copenhagen recently determined that Vitamin D is necessary to activate the immune system’s T-cells that identify and attack bad pathogens circulating throughout the body. Without enough of this vitamin, your body isn’t as effective in fighting infection. Good to know![2]

4. Foods including bread are being fortified with Vitamin D

In the UK, where they aren't blessed with the abundance of sunlight we are in Australia, they have started introducing Vitamin D into some common foods. In a bid to help customers up their Vitamin D intake, back in May 2015 Marks and Spencer announced they were to become the first UK retailer to add Vitamin D to all its packaged bread and bread rolls.

The upmarket grocer claims two slices of its bread will provide a minimum of 15% of the daily requirement of the vitamin and that all M&S pre-packed sliced bread sandwiches will be enriched with Vitamin D. [3]

5. You can get Vitamin D even when wearing sunscreen

Sunscreen prevents sunburn by blocking UVB light. Theoretically, that means sunscreen use lowers Vitamin D levels. However, research suggests your body can produce Vitamin D even while you’re wearing sunscreen, according to King’s College London’s Institute of Dermatology. In the study, conducted somewhere on a sunny beach in Tenerife, all participants had acceptable levels of Vitamin D.

Despite the use of sunscreen, participants experienced an average increase to their baseline Vitamin D levels of an additional 16 nmol/l, indicating that the use of sunscreen still allows the body to produce significant amounts of Vitamin D from sunlight exposure.[4]

Read about the latest research on Vitamin D here.