Recent research, which wasn't released until this year, shows that people with higher body fat levels (and larger waistlines) are more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D. What exactly is the relationship between this vitamin and our health and weight?
The recent recurrence of rickets (a severe form of vitamin D deficiency that leads to bone deformity) in infants in Ireland showed that the Irish population had widespread low vitamin D levels. It has also been reported that nearly half of the US population is deficient in vitamin D. If this is the case in the US, where the climate is sunnier, it could be even more common in Ireland.
Our lack of sun exposure in this country, combined with a low intake of foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D, such as: B. Oily fish (often due to the fact that many people are unsure how to cook with fish or they think it is too expensive) puts us at increased risk.
Luckily we had a fantastic summer which would have been helpful in building our vitamin D stores for the winter. Even so, we still need to be aware of this vital vitamin, especially as the months progress and when the light decreases. Personally, I use a vitamin D spray because the evidence has convinced me – and I encourage the rest of my family to take it daily.
And while it is clear that much more research needs to be done, we know that vitamin D seems to be the talk of the town in medical circles almost worldwide. Some authors even describe the widespread vitamin D deficiency as an “ignored epidemic”. Deficiency symptoms typically include pain in the joints, muscles, or bones; fatigue; Difficulty breathing; and bad mood or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
It's produced in our skin when it comes in contact with sunlight and seems to play a much more important role than we previously thought when it comes to health and our immune system. Vitamin D not only promotes calcium absorption and bone health (especially important in children and adolescents when maximum bone mass is reached), but can also fight off diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
In fact, more and more studies are emerging that indicate that sufficient vitamin D can play a role in respiratory infections and autoimmune diseases, among other things. And some research shows a link between low vitamin D status and decreased muscle strength, which we know is crucial for our metabolism as we age – read more.
As for the evidence of a link between vitamin D and belly fat, it is clear that more research needs to be done – cause and effect are not yet known. In other words, does a lack of this vitamin cause fat to be stored in the abdominal area, or does this type of fat decrease vitamin D stores? We still don't know, but it's fascinating that someone wearing extra fat in the middle seems to have lower levels.
Can i get it from my food?
Foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Ideally, these must be consumed three times a week in order to influence the vitamin D status. Canned versions are okay and cheaper, but try to combine cans with fresh ones where possible. Small amounts of the vitamin are also found in beef, liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Fortified products have their place – a 200 ml glass, for example, could provide almost half of a child's daily needs. And, of course, there are supplements that you can buy at your local pharmacy, in tablet or spray form (spray form is considered a more effective way of delivering it into the bloodstream).
What about our kids?
Researchers tell us that many Irish children have very low levels of vitamin D intake from food and the sun, which means that many are most likely to be lacking this vital vitamin. And due to the fact that there are no obvious deficiency symptoms (in mild cases), many parents are unaware that their children's health could be affected.
A few years ago, the Vitamin D Research Group at UCC conducted studies that found that both teenage girls and elementary school children were consuming around 2 mcg from their diet per day, well below the current level of the American Academy of Pediatrics ( AAP) is the recommendation of 10 μg for infants, children and adolescents.
The recommended intake of vitamin D is 400–800 IU / day or 10–20 micrograms for adults. However, some studies suggest that a higher daily intake of 1000-4000 IU (25-100 micrograms) is required to maintain optimal blood levels.
Experts urge parents to ensure that their children spend more time outdoors in the summer and that they don't always rub sunscreen from head to toe (although they advise not to use sunscreen for the first 15 minutes to keep the skin exposed is a period, a time interval). The advice includes offering fortified milk for children such as "super milk" as well as fortified cereals and vitamin D supplements or cod liver oil (rich in vitamin D), especially in the winter months – practices that were more common among our grandparents.
What about vegetarians?
For vegetarians there is some repetition in what was covered above, but since there is no meat, here are six categories in which to get vitamin D.
- Certain mushrooms
- egg yolk
- Fortified foods
I am sure that much more evidence of the vital importance of this vitamin will emerge. In our climate it is of particular importance for us and our children. For one thing, I want to be religious when I take my vitamin D spray this winter, and I also think there is no harm in buying super milk and other fortified products that may increase my children's intake.
And although the light is minimal, it is advisable to exercise outdoors. I'm glad that more and more evidence of this vitamin is surfacing so we can all make sure we're getting enough.
As they say, it's better late than never.