Vitamin D is synthesized by the body on exposure to sunlight. However, many areas of the world receive insufficient sunlight and even in sunny areas, many choose to limit their exposure due to the negative health effects of excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays. These factors have led to widespread low vitamin D levels in many parts of the world.
Many national governments now recommend vitamin D supplementation for the entire population, due to the many benefits of this key nutrient. The UK Department of Health now recommends that everybody from birth take a supplement containing vitamin D to help safeguard their levels.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin found in foods such as mushrooms, oily fish, butter and egg yolk. Vitamin D has functions and benefits that are probably more wide ranging than any other vitamin.
There has been huge renewed interest in vitamin D recently, with new global research showing that the health benefits of this nutrient stretch beyond bone health. There is increasing evidence for the beneficial effects from dietary vitamin D which has shown benefits for its contribution to:
- Maintenance of normal bones and teeth
- Normal absorption and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus
- Normal muscle function
- Normal blood calcium levels
- Normal function of the immune system
- The process of cell division
For adults over the age of 60, it has also been shown that a daily vitamin D intake of 20µg or more from all sources helps to reduce the risk of falling associated with postural instability and muscle weakness. Falling is a risk factor for bone fractures among men and women 60 years of age and older.