What is Vitamin D and is it important in the summer?

Summer is here and the sun is shining! After the cold winter months, it’s refreshing to feel the warm sun on our skin. Not only do most people feel uplifted when the sun comes out, sunlight is also a great source of vitamin D.

Here’s all the information you need to know about the “sunshine” vitamin and how to achieve your recommended intake during the summer months.

What is Vitamin D?

The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors and it is also found in a small number of foods. Sources include: oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods, such as fat spreads and some breakfast cereals.1

Why do we need Vitamin D?

In short, the “sunshine” vitamin helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. It helps the body absorb calcium from the food we eat and by helping to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphate, it plays a role in the maintenance of normal bones and teeth.

Tom Siebel, Managing Director of VÖOST suggests “Vitamin D is an extremely important nutrient as it contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth and is needed for normal growth and development of bones in children, as well as the body's absorption of calcium”.

Other key roles of Vitamin D include contributing to the maintenance of normal muscle and immune system function.

How do we get enough Vitamin D?

Most of us are able to make enough vitamin D from being out for short periods in the sun daily, with our forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March or early April to the end of September, especially between the hours of 11am to 3pm.

This could include taking a short walk to the shops or sitting outside at lunch. If you drive to work, you could park further away to give yourself a short walk to the office.

Try taking your workout away from the gym with these five ways to exercise outdoors.

“It's not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body's requirements as there are a number of factors that can affect how vitamin D is made, such as skin colour or how much skin is exposed. You should be careful not to burn in the sun, so take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before your skin starts to turn red or burn.”1

The health body also advises that people with dark skin, such as those of African, African-Caribbean or south Asian origin, will need to spend longer in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as someone with lighter skin.

If you’re trapped in the office, aren’t often outdoors or usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors it may be difficult for you to achieve your recommended intake. Unfortunately, sitting by the sunny window in the office isn’t a shortcut! Our bodies can’t make vitamin D through a window because the rays we need to make vitamin D can’t get through the glass.1 Getting enough Vitamin D is important all year round. If you think you are unable to get your recommended daily intake, you could try a vitamin D supplement, such as VÖOST to help fill the gaps.

For more advice and guidance on this please visit the NHS website.