More and more, supplements are becoming a major part of people’s daily regimen. But if truth be told, they’re not always necessary. That multi-vitamin, for example, is merely added value if you’re enjoying a healthy, varied diet. Equally, if you’re sitting down to a Tupperware of chicken after you workout then that protein shake may be over-egging it.
There is, however, one supplement that is a non-negotiable for better health: vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. Here, expert nutritionist Sarah Carolides from Third Space Medical explains.
What is it?
Vitamin D not actually a vitamin, but a hormone known as a secosteroid.
What does it do?
Vitamin D is best known for regulating calcium absorption and utilisation, but it is also involved in regulating hormone secretion, cell growth and replication and studies have linked it to everything from muscle gain to fat loss.
Most important is its impact on your immune system – something increasingly crucial in the time of a pandemic. Vitamin D activates the innate immune system (immunity encoded at birth). This may explain the role of vitamin D in fighting off acute infections.
How does it work?
There are two types: vitamin D3 and D2. We only get about 10% of our vitamin D from food – D3 is found in oily fish and egg yolks, while D2 can be found in enriched dairy products and plants.
Much more vitamin D can be produced as your body makes D3 from sunlight (UV-B rays) that hit the skin. However, at this time of year the UV-B rays in the UK are not strong enough to provoke much D3 through the skin, so a supplement is essential. D3 is metabolised much more efficiently than D2, so look out for that on the label.
Our Top 3 Vitamin D picks
Healthspan elite, £20 for 120 capsules
Vitabiotics, £9 for 96 capsules