Vitamin D – where does it come from and how do I get me some?

I was asked this great question today by the lovely @bossanovamax on twitter today!
“What can you recommend about vit d news going on. How do we get more into our kids without any sun?”

The answer is pretty simple really, and goes something like this:

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, found mainly in foods from animal sources, such as liver, veal, beef, eggs, and some fish.  All things kids love, eh?  It is also found in dairy.  Something which many kids do love.  BUT, and the but is so big, I wrote it in capitals.

When you take the fat out of dairy you also take out the fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin D!

So, low fat milk, yogurt, cheese etc = not much Vitamin D. And even if it is added to your dairy, the fact that this fat-soluble vitamin might not be easily taken in.
Full fat milk, yogurt, cheese etc = plenty of Vitamin D.  Simple.

The question about eating too much fat when you have full fat milk, for example, isn’t really much of something to worry about, seeing as full fat milk is only about 3.5% anyway.  You’d be hard pushed to call that a high fat food!  If you are going to drink pints and pints on a daily basis, you might want to reassess your milk drinking choices though!

Vegans might want to consider fortified foods, especially if they aren’t out and about enough to make their own Vitamin D – huh?

Vitamin D is also referred to as the sunshine vitamin, because we are perfectly capable of making it ourselves in sunlight.  But, because we are all so scared nowadays, especially for little kiddies, about getting skin cancer, we all slap on so much suncream, even when there is barely any sun, that we aren’t getting enough in the spring and summer to build up our stores to last us through the winter.

The remedy for that is to not cover up in suncream for the whole day, but actually let our skin get a bit of sun (ie, before the really hot period, and definitely before we get burned!!) so that we can actually make our own Vitamin D.

Seeing as Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin, it makes sense that cows which have been outside in the summer (ie, organic or free range ones!) will have more Vitamin D in their milk than cows which have been inside the whole time.  So, possibly, organic milk and dairy would be a better choice for Vitamin D.

So, as far as I can tell, the people who are most at risk of being deficient in Vitamin D are:

  • Vegans (because they don’t eat any animal source Vitamin D).
  • People who love low fat dairy options.
  • People who get very little sunshine on their skin.
  • People who might have trouble making Vitamin D, such as the elderly, those with fat absorption issues, or even those on statins (this last one is a very personal, unverified opinion, but as your skin needs cholesterol to make Vitamin D, anyone taking statins might theoretically have a lower ability to produce Vitamin D – like I say though, this is just me thinking out loud here.)

If you are worried, you can either get your blood Vitamin D levels tested at the Doctor (they may charge), or you could perhaps consider a good quality Vitamin D supplement.  If you are going to do this, it would be worth checking with your doctor, or grabbing a Start Right Report so you can get stuck into finding all the Vitamin D that you need.

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