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Importance of vitamin d

Hi friends of Oompf, its Dr Naras Lapsys here, your in-house dietitian and longevity medicine practitioner.

Over the up and coming months, our health and, our immune health, will be of great
importance. I will be a regular contributor to these chats. Let us use this time to optimise both!

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is more than a vitamin, it is a steroid hormone that your body needs to function optimally. Vitamin D is made in your skin in response to UVB exposure from the sun. You can also get vitamin D from your diet and from supplementation. Many people associate vitamin D with calcium absorption and bone health; however, vitamin D also plays an important role in immune function.

Vitamin D Deficiency

A recent 2017 study identified that up to 80% of Singaporeans may have vitamin D insufficiency. You
are at a higher risk of vitamin D insufficiency if you are:
– Elderly
– Overweight/obese
– Darker skinned
– Are indoors all day
– Use sunscreen and keep your skin covered when outdoors

Vitamin D and Immune Function

Studies have shown that vitamin D is protective against infections of the lungs and lung injury, a key target of the Sars covid 2 virus. Vitamin D plays an important role in our innate immune response, one of our first lines of defence against invading viruses and bacteria.

How to Increase your Vitamin D

1. Sun
One of the easiest and most effective ways to increase your vitamin D is to get regular exposure to the sun. During the circuit breaker it might be finding an open window or a balcony. The window must be open because glass blocks the UVB rays. The best time of day is around midday but any time between 10am and 3pm will work. Aim for 10-30min daily or at least twice a week. Make sure that you have plenty of skin exposure and do not wear sunscreen. If you exercise, make sure that your arms and legs are minimally covered and again, no sunscreen for the first 10-15min.

2. Food
Fresh and tinned oily fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna are good sources of vitamin D. Mushrooms provide some vitamin D and there are many foods such as milk, soy milk and cereals that are fortified with vitamin D. Eggs provide this fat-soluble vitamin in their yolk.

3. Supplementation
If you have reason to minimise your sun exposure and your eating patterns do not include frequent vitamin D-containing foods, then you may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Speak to your GP prior to undertaking any supplementation, as vitamin toxicity can occur and it is usually associated with excess supplementation.

If you have any diet or health-related questions, or topics you want covered, please feel free to contact me directly at: [email protected]. I will do my best to answer your questions!

I am available for face to face video consultations during the circuit breaker, creating highly individualised diet and lifestyle plans to help people improve their weight, health and fitness goals.

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