Health hacks: 3 easy ways to get your daily Vitamin D
Photography: Jessica Weller | Pinterest
The health risks associated with Vitamin D deficiency include heart disease, bowel and breast cancer and diabetes, but the demands of modern life mean we’re getting less Vitamin D than ever. According to the British Medical Journal, more than 50 per cent of us have insufficient levels. Here’s how to get a little more Vitamin D in your life:
1. Expose your skin to the sun
It’s tempting to eat in front of your computer, phone or TV screen at lunch, especially when you want to seize any spare moment to scroll through Facebook, catch up on emails or your favourite box-set. But avoid keeping yourself cooped up indoors: our bodies are designed to get the daily intake we need from the sun. Charlotte Stirling-Reed, a registered nutritionist, says: ‘Around 90 per cent of our Vitamin D requirement comes from sunlight, which means it’s not possible for us to get it from diet alone.’
Registered dietician Priya Tew, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, recommends spending 10–15 minutes outdoors every day with your bare legs and arms exposed without sunscreen to boost Vitamin D levels. But be aware: your shadow should be shorter than you are for there to be enough sun for Vitamin D synthesis.
THE FIX: Banish those screens during work breaks! Just 10–15 minutes of sunlight exposure to the face and arms between 11am and 3pm for a fair-skinned person generates your daily dose of Vitamin D. But those with darker skin (eg of South Asian origin) need to spend longer in the sun to produce the same amount.
Read more: Soak up some sunlight
2. Eat oily fish
The average daily diet in the UK provides only 2.8mcg of Vitamin D for women – despite health experts recommending a daily intake of 15mcg. But fret not; you can boost your levels through food.
THE FIX: Oily fish such as eel and trout are excellent naturally rich sources of Vitamin D. One portion of raw herring provides 19.0mcg, raw salmon 5.9mcg and raw mackerel 8.2mcg. You can even get your Vitamin D dose from a tin, too. Canned sardines in brine (4.6mg) and salmon (9.2mcg) are both budget-friendly options – and have a longer shelf life.
For alternative Vitamin D rich sources, Doctor Martin Hewison, professor of molecular endocrinology at The University of Birmingham, recommends free-range meat, shitake mushrooms, liver, egg yolks and fortified fat spreads and breakfast cereals.
However, it’s best not to rely on these as your only source.
Read more: How to get your ‘summer happy’ back
3. Take a Vitamin D supplement
As Vitamin D in foods cannot substitute for lack of sunlight exposure, it’s unsurprising many people are increasingly opting to maximise their intake using supplements – especially as UVA and UVB rays increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
THE FIX: Dr James Dowd, author of The Vitamin D Cure and associate clinical professor of medicine at Michigan State University, says: ‘Taking a supplement is by far and away the easiest way to normalise a vitamin D level. It is also inexpensive.’ The UK’s Metabolic Bone Centre recommends taking 600 IU or 15 mcg, per day.
Alternatively, cod liver oil contains a high amount of Vitamin D. Healthy loves Cod Liver Oil capsules.