The daffodils have sprung, the sky is showcasing long forgotten shades of blue and the days are (finally) getting longer. Spring is here!
As well as providing a much-needed mood boost, the longer days have a range of health benefits, such as allowing us to maintain our Vitamin D levels - a vitamin which is produced by our bodies when we’re exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D is important for our bones and immune system - but how do we make it?
One of our favourite things can help here – food. Vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium and phosphate from food, helping keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
This is important, as a lack of vitamin D can weaken bones, causing pain, rickets and osteomalacia.
Vitamin D also contributes to the normal function of the immune system. Perfect news as the UK prepares to ease lockdown measures over the coming weeks.
How Does The Body Make Vitamin D From The Sun?
The body creates vitamin D from UVB rays in sunlight when it shines on our skin - but only when we’re outside, so dig out your shorts and go enjoy what nature has to offer.
As UVB rays are blocked by glass, the body can’t create vitamin D when sitting next to a sunny window, or when wearing sun cream or clothing.
It isn’t known how much time we need to spend in the sun to create the recommended daily intake of vitamin D, as this is dependent on skin colour and the clothes you are wearing.
We know you’ve missed the sun, but it’s important to practice sun safety when spending time outdoors, including wearing sun cream before your skin starts to burn. Younger children should move to shaded areas between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
In the UK, the winter sun doesn’t contain enough UVB to create vitamin D, so some people get their intake through alternative sources.
How To Get Vitamin D From Other Sources
Vegans – don't think you aren’t catered for. As animal-based products aren’t suitable for you, many free-from products are fortified with vitamin D, including margarine and cereal.
However, food alone may not be enough to meet your recommended daily intake.
If you struggle to consume enough vitamin D from food or sunlight, it could be worth considering supplements. In the UK, the NHS suggest taking a daily supplement between October and early March, especially if you spend a lot of time indoors.
Food supplements are intended to supplement the diet and should not be substituted for a varied diet or healthy lifestyle.