What is Vitamin D and Why is it Important?

Wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to vitamin D? Unsure what it is and does? This blog post is for you, read below to get the lowdown on all things vitamin D.

What is it?

Vitamin D is a nutrient required to keep the body healthy and is crucial to many aspects of our health. The nutrient helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate your body absorbs. Predominantly known for its role in bone health, vitamin D is also key to the health of the immune system. Also, it contributes to keeping teeth and muscles healthy.

Why is it Important?

Vitamin D is an important vitamin when it comes to bone health. A lack of vitamin D can lead to a disorder called osteomalacia, causing bone pain and muscle weakness in adults. In children, vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, a disease where bones become soft, painful, deformed and weak.

Vitamin D has also been under scrutiny in recent years due to the deficiency rates in the UK. It is estimated that 50-70% of the UK population are vitamin D deficient. This is in the main, attributed to low levels of sunshine since the active form of vitamin D (D3) is synthesized in the skin on exposure to UV rays. People with darker skin tones are believed to be more at risk of deficiency since vitamin D is not as easily synthesized in the skin.

In addition, the form that is found in foods is inactive (D2) and needs to be converted into its active form (D3). Since vitamin D is found in few foods, vitamin D deficiency is a widespread problem. In fact, the government recommendation is that everyone in the UK take a vitamin D supplement during the winter months. For those that are considered in an ‘at risk group’ (those from ethnic origin, the elderly, pregnancy and children) it is recommended to take vitamin D supplements all year round.