Exploring the Benefits of Vitamin D

Explore the world of Vitamin D with essential nutrition tips for stronger bones and a resilient immune system. Learn how it aids calcium absorption and helps fight infections, especially in winter. Discover food sources, Vitamin D3 supplements, and the role of this fat-soluble vitamin in nutrient absorption. Uncover the impact of multivitamin supplements for a well-balanced diet.

 

Addressing Vitamin D Deficiency in Ireland

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is essential for bone and muscle health as well as strengthening our immune system. Vitamin D is also needed to boost the absorption of calcium in our bodies. 

  • National research has reported that 90% of Irish adults don’t consume enough vitamin D (1). 
  • People in Ireland also do not obtain enough vitamin D from the effect of sunlight on the skin. 
  • The Department of Health recommends everyone living in Ireland to take a vitamin D supplement (2). 

The amount of vitamin D you need will depend on your age, skin tone, current lifestyle and the time of year. This guidance has now changed, so as always, at Inside Out Nutrition, we translate the most up-to-date scientific evidence to give you the best nutrition tips!

“Did you know there are 3 main sources of vitamin D?”

 

Primary Sources of Vitamin D

1. Sunlight and Vitamin D Synthesis

Our bodies make vitamin D by the action of sunlight on our skin. However, protecting our skin from strong sunlight exposure is important to prevent skin cancers. Our bodies can still make vitamin D from sunlight even when wearing sun cream and protecting our skin from sunburn during the summer months. 

However, from October to March, sunlight is not strong enough to make vitamin D. Therefore, during winter months, sunlight is not a reliable source of vitamin D, but it is a key nutrient within our winter nutrition tips. 

2. Vitamin D from Food Sources

Some food products contain small amounts of vitamin D, including oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines), eggs, red meat, cheese and fortified foods such as milks, yoghurts and breakfast cereals. However, the amounts of vitamin D that are added to fortified foods can vary, so it’s important to check the food nutrition label. 

3. Vitamin D Supplements

Recent guidance published by the Department of Health updated the recommendations for vitamin D supplementation in Ireland. Across the lifecycle, our vitamin D requirements will change and this may mean that we need to take a daily vitamin D supplement, especially during the winter months. This is why vitamin D is included amongst our nutrition tips for improving your health. 

 

Guidance and Vitamin D Recommendations

Below is a useful guide for your recommended vitamin D supplement (2):

How to Take a Vitamin D Supplement

A supplement (in the form of a spray, capsule or tablet) containing vitamin D in the form of vitamin D3 is best absorbed by the body. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that it should be taken with food containing a source of fat. 

The easiest way to do this is to find a mealtime which suits your schedule and remember to take your vitamin D3 supplement at this time. Our best nutrition tip is to store your vitamin D supplement with your regular medications that way, you’ll be reminded to take it daily, and it becomes part of your usual routine. 

 

Take Home Points & Vitamin D Considerations

  • Vitamin D Supplementation During Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, remember to take a daily vitamin D supplement. Most ante-natal multivitamin supplements will contain 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D, so you may need to consider taking additional vitamin D. 
  • Vitamin D Supplementation for The Elderly: Older adults (over 65 years) need to take a vitamin D supplement all year round. 
  • Vitamin D Needs for Those with Reduced Skin Exposure: Those with darker skin or reduced skin exposure need to take a daily vitamin D supplement all year round. 
  • Consulting Your GP for Personalized Advice: If you are unsure on whether you are taking the right vitamin D supplement, it is a good idea to ask your GP to check your vitamin D level, and then you can supplement with the exact dose that your body needs until levels become replenished.  

If you’re seeking personalised nutrition advice or need assistance organising your meal plans to boost your vitamin levels, reach out to our Registered Dietitians in Ireland. We’re here to provide tailored guidance and nutrition plans based on your individual needs. 

 

Sources of Information 

  1. Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA). National Adult Nutrition Survey. Summary Report 2011. Available on: https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/46a7ad27/files/uploaded/The%20National%20Adult%20Nutrition%20Survey%20Summary%20Report%20March%202011.pdf 
  2. Department of Health. Healthy Ireland. Vitamin D Flyer. Available on: https://www.indi.ie/images/M15429_-_DEPARTMENT_OF_HEALTH_Healthy_Ireland_Vitamin_D_Flyer_v6.pdf