Vitamin D: The Shocking Facts That Show How Crucial The Sunshine Vitamin Really Is

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Vitamin D, is also known as the Sunshine Vitamin.

Vitamin D sunshine in the sky with clouds

In 2024 it may shock you to learn that we are seeing a re-emergence of 1920’s Victorian Era diseases such as Rickets.

Rickets is a condition that is unique to children and growing adolescents  when growing bones do not develop adequately. Typically, Rickets presents as leg deformities like bowing or knock knees, swollen wrists, knees, or ribs. In adults a similar condition known as Osteomalacia can develop which is softening of the bones.

The Vitamin Deficiency Behind Rickets

Both conditions develop due to a deficiency in Vitamin D with Rickets being the most common childhood complication due to Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) Vitamin D testing will show a deficiency at levels of <25nmol/L or below.

 

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which is essential for various processes in the body and in the case of Rickets and Osteomalacia, plays a vital role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus needed to help with the mineralisation of teeth and bones to maintain density and strength.

 

Vitamin D is “essential” because we require adequate sunshine and food to be able to make it in the body. Inadequate levels of Vitamin D can be associated with various other ailments like a struggling immune system, skin complaints such as acne or rosacea, low moods and much more. We have receptors for Vitamin D within every cell in the body, so this gives you a sense of how adequate levels are vital in supporting and maintaining health.

Why More People Are Getting Rickets and Osteomalacia

To answer this question let’s take quick dive into the process of making Vitamin D.

The process of making Vitamin D begins in the skin when in direct contact with the UVB rays of the sun. The UVB rays bind to cholesterol in the skin forming a substance known as Pre-Vitamin D which is sent to the liver via the bloodstream to form Cholecalciferol. After several chemical processes in the kidneys the body makes a form called Calcitriol, the active form ready to be used for all the vital functions of the body.

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, due to the distance from the equator we sit above the sun belt meaning that it is not possible to access the sun’s UVB rays from October through to April.

 

During May to September, you can access somewhere between 10,000 to 25,000 international units (iu) of vitamin D per day by being outdoors in the sun between 12 noon and 2pm for 10 - 20 minutes with bare, unprotected skin, even on a cloudy day. Darker skin tones will require slightly longer in the midday sun at around 30 minutes.

 

Interesting fact: In the early 1900’s it was commonplace to treat rickets and tuberculosis with sunlight therapy . Patients would sit under large UVB lights to receive the therapy. Children would play outside in the midday sun in just a nappy to allow maximum skin exposure as a common treatment for rickets.

 

Fast forward over one hundred years and we no longer have cases of tuberculosis due to the treatment of antibiotics. Rickets, however, is seeing a resurgence in children due several factors:

  • Childhood malnutrition

  • Lack of daylight sunshine exposure

  • Minimal or no supplementation

If you and your children are indoors with infrequent outside sun exposure, are you inadvertently limiting yourself to the vital sunshine that you need to thrive?

 

Combine this with food scarcity and food inequality where it is cheaper to feed a child processed nutrient devoid foods over nutritious foods, it might explain why we are seeing Victorian diseases return.

 

What Do Soil Have to Do With Your Health?

In some cases, the soil in which vegetables are grown in no longer contains adequate levels of vital minerals such as magnesium required to absorb calcium to build strong teeth and bones. Read more about why our grandparents diet was more nutritious here

 

Interesting Fact: alongside sunlight therapy in the 1900s sat Balneotherapy also known at the time as “taking the waters.” People would bathe in the sea water or mineral springs due to its high mineral content.

 

Tip: You can replicate this at home if you don’t fancy a dip in our chilly waters by running a bath of Epsom Salts. Or a foot bath if you don’t have access to a bath.

 

Making Sense of It All: Simplifying the Complex

So now you know that you need daily sunshine exposure during the summer months but what do you do during the darker months?

 

You must supplement and it is highly recommended that you also have your vitamin D levels tested either by your GP, hospital  or by a private laboratory . Testing is easy and usually via a finger prick test kit sent to your home. The lab will let you know if you have adequate levels of Vitamin D or if you are deficient and require a loading dose of Vitamin D which can be administered under the guidance of a trained practitioner. Once your levels are corrected you can continue with a maintenance dose each day even during the summer months.

 

Revive Active: Your Trusted Partner for Health and Well-being

Here at Revive Active we love Zest Active  for its mix of key nutrients such as Vitamin D to help contribute towards normal function of the immune system, maintenance of normal muscle function and maintenance of normal bones. We also love it because it tastes like a big burst of sunshine on those dark and gloomy days.

Zest Active in a kitchen counter with the Zest Active Drink and half an orange, Vegan Approved Logo

Think of Revive Active as your everyday, all year-round ally in supporting your health.

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