Vitamin D - The Sunshine Vitamin
What Does Vitamin D Do?
Vitamin D is essentially a wonder vitamin, that can help maintain bones, teeth, muscle and your health in general. It can also prevent diseases like rickets and osteoporosis. Studies have also demonstrated that it may also play a role in preventing auto-immune diseases like Crohn’s Disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as diabetes type one and hypertension.
Your body can make its own Vitamin D from sunlight, and even when it is a sunny day here in Ireland, you still have to protect your skin with broad-spectrum SPF. Between November and March Ireland doesn’t receive enough sunlight to produce enough vitamin D, and the darker your skin is the more deficient you may be. If you’re pale, around 25 minutes of sunlight on the face and forearms in the afternoon about twice a week is sufficient in the summer months. Black skin needs more exposure, up to 120 minutes. Maintaining natural vitamin D production can be difficult with sedentary lifestyles and most of us now working indoors.
Vitamin D And Your Diet
Oily fish, eggs and fortified foods are a good source of Vitamin D, but the amount is not enough - particularly for infants who aren’t eating solids yet. Offal is a good source of vitamin D but is too high in vitamin A so you should avoid if pregnant.
Vitamin D Deficiency
A lot of the time deficiency will not show any symptoms, or general ones like tiredness and feeling ‘off’. It is often misdiagnosed for these reasons. Low vitamin D levels are widespread in Ireland. A vitamin D supplement is a good option, particularly for pregnant women. Currently Ireland’s healthy eating guidelines are being updated in order to accommodate these new Vitamin D recommendations.
Vitamin D and Your Baby
The HSE and FSAI recommend all babies are given a supplement of 5 micrograms of vitamin D3 (calciferol) daily up until they are 12 months old, regardless of how your baby is being fed. Young babies are at a very high risk of vitamin D deficiency due to how quickly they grow in the first year. For infants, a liquid form is suitable but if you are also giving your little one a multivitamin, check with your healthcare practitioner before starting another supplement. Always check the dosage instructions carefully.
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