Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for calcium absorption so helps maintain bone health and is also important for muscular health. Sunlight is our main source of vitamin D – that’s why it’s often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’. The body makes vitamin D under the skin when exposed to daylight; however in the UK this only occurs from around early April to September during the middle of the day due to the strength and latitude of the sun. Vitamin D is also present in some foods such as oily fish, eggs, cod liver oil and fortified products such as cereals and margarine.
A balanced diet and safe sunlight exposure should keep you topped up during the summer months. However in the autumn and winter due to the changes in the strength and latitude of the sun most people do not get adequate intake so it’s advised that we take a supplement during these seasons.
Researchers claim vitamin D supplements could spare more than three million people in the UK from colds/flu, each year.
Researchers completed a systematic review and meta-analysis from 25 eligible randomised controlled trials with a total number of 11,321 participants. They found that “vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of acute respiratory tract infection among all participants”. Further investigation found that people receiving a daily or weekly vitamin D supplement had protective effects against respiratory tract infections, where as those who received one or more bolus (intravenously controlled) doses did not.
The research is not conclusive - further investigation is required to look into the link between vitamin D and the immune system to really determine how it can impact on respiratory tract infections. Click here to read the full journal on the study.
However we do know there is a link between vitamin D intake and bone and muscular health so it’s important we are getting enough.
Article written by Lucy Vickers.