British Muslim Magazine

The Importance of Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin

Did you know that Vitamin D is a hormone rather than a vitamin? While Vitamin D supplements can be purchased, the best way for your body to obtain Vitamin D is by your skin synthesising any sun exposure it receives and turning this into a hormone. This is what we call calcitriol, or activated Vitamin D. There are limited foods from which the body can receive the required amount of Vitamin D such as cod liver oil, salmon and egg yolks. However, nutritionists have always told us that the best way of producing Vitamin D is by getting enough sun exposure.

Vitamin D tablets are recommended if our bodies fail to get the right amount of sun exposure. Our bodies make around 90% of the Vitamin D it needs through sun exposure, which goes on to improve our immune system, absorb and retain calcium, improve bone health and reduce inflammation. If your body is failing to get sun exposure on a daily basis, it becomes extremely important that you choose the alternative route; taking Vitamin D supplements.

Due to the pandemic, many of us are spending more time at home, making it more important for us to consider taking a daily dose of Vitamin D. It’s highly recommended that one spends time outdoors in the sun. However, if that is not possible, a Vitamin D supplement will produce substantial health benefits.

As your body gets 90% of its Vitamin D from direct sun exposure and only 10% from certain foods, it becomes extremely important that you find time to spend outdoors on a daily basis – even if it may be for ten minutes.

Do South Asians Require More Vitamin D?

People with darker skin are usually recommended to get more sun exposure than others. This may seem odd at first but it’s all down to the way the skin works. Those with a darker shade of skin tend to have lower blood levels of Vitamin D as the melanin pigment gets in the way by acting as a shade. While this is a good thing in that it reduces the chances of skin damage when exposed to sunlight, it also means that there is reduced production of Vitamin D.

Supplements or Sunshine?

The most natural way of obtaining Vitamin D is by exposing your skin to the sun. However, for many of us, it can be difficult to spend time outdoors on a daily basis. Being outdoors can also be difficult for those with a physical disability or for certain vulnerable groups. What’s more, there are many who cover for cultural or religious reasons. For people who fit these categories, it is highly advised that they take Vitamin D supplements in order to ensure overall health and well-being.

Main Image – Elsa Olofsson, Unsplash

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