Vitamin D plays many crucial roles in maintaining our health. This includes maintaining bone density, muscle contraction, hormone balance and immunity.
The active form of vitamin D is actually a hormone called calcitriol, which is produced by the kidneys after sunlight hits our skin, or we eat vitamin D through food sources.
Calcitriol binds to vitamin D receptors aiding balanced immune response and appropriate levels of inflammation. This prevents the immune system from attacking its own tissues, known as autoimmunity. Therefore, inadequate levels of vitamin D in the body can increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases. This includes type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
This is demonstrated across research, if you would like to know more here is a great paper to read.
Preventing Vitamin D deficiency
- Spend time outside – 12pm is actually the best time to go outside. At midday the light rays are at the optimum length to efficiently absorb UVB rays to make vitamin D. Get some rays for about 10 minutes before applying suncream. If you have very pale skin limit this time to 5 minutes or less, and if you have darker skin increase the time (to up to 20 minutes) to allow adequate vitamin D synthesis.
- Eat vitamin D food sources – Mushrooms are great sources of vitamin D, try and pick mushrooms that have filaments facing vertically. This means they have been exposed to sunlight, allowing them to make vitamin D for us to absorb. Eggs and liver are also good sources.
- Supplements – particularly during the winter months when sun exposure is low, I think it is worth taking a vitamin D3 supplement. A dose of 2000IU is a good maintenance level.
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