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Vitamin D – let the sun shine in you!

May 20, 2013

I thought I may be too late in the year for this blog. As I sit inside on a cold and windy MAY day I realise that I am not.

For the last 6/7 months I have added Vitamin D3 to my supplements. I have noticed stronger nails, even better skin and improvement in my hair. It could be my imagination, even happier! Especially after my last marathon in Devon, I realised that I felt stronger and did not have any “down” periods that I have occasionally experienced after my other marathons.

Space-filling of the cholecalciferol molecule ...

Space-filling of the cholecalciferol molecule (vitamin D3), C 27 H 44 O, as found in the crystal structure. X-ray crystallographic data from J. Org. Chem. (1976) 41, 3476–3478. Model constructed in CrystalMaker 8.1. Image generated in Accelrys DS Visualizer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looking further into this “simple” vitamin, which I learnt at school we “make” from the sun, I was amazed to find out just how important this vitamin is. It is responsible for thousands of processes in our body, including the well known calcification (Vitamin D is actually needed so that the blood can carry calcium to through the body and thus enable uptake), our immune system, soft tissue, blood sugar level, eyesight.

Inadequate Vitamin D can lead to:

I even read an article where, according to research,  written up in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society 2009,  65 plussers with low Vitamin D are almost 2x likely to die in a period of 7 years than those with a more  Vitamin D in their blood. I have also read that it can prevent some kinds of cancer, kidney disease and lengthen your lifespan.

It all makes so much sense when you think that our genes have not changed very much. So the issue of shortage of vitamins lies in what we eat. For vitamin D we know that the homo sapiens grew up in Africa around water and swamp land. Thus fish were an important part of the diet. Now grain, milk and sugar products dominate our diet. Thus fish and the sunlight from Africa were important sources of Vitamin D.

So how much do we need? Ah! here is the great debate! Here are a few things that I have gleaned:

  • if you live in the Northern Hemisphere then you definitely need to supplement – you can almost never get enough from the sun consistently
  • if you have darker skin then your sensitivity to t he sun is not as sufficient as those with light skin (yes there is a reason for us Brits being so pale!) and therefore need to supplement
  • weight also needs to be taken into account – the heavier the more you Vitamin D you need
  • pregnant women need more
  • breast feeding women need even more
  • supplementation of Vitamin D begins right from the time you are born
  • you need Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
  • you will need more if you drink excessively, smoke, sport

The “how much” can be boiled down to “more than you think”…

The UK NHS site makes a difference between the pregnant, baby. young, old etc.  from 7 – 25 micro gram (1000 IE). The Dutch daily recommended dose is 2,5 micro gram. The USA recommend 50 micro grams (2000 IE).

It’s too confusing for words!

Bottom line is: Shortage is more likely than too much, especially in winter. Too much = some 10,000 IE (250 mg) per day.

Sources of information that I used for this article:


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