The sky is blue in the Algarve and it´s warming up fast. Whenever there is a hint that spring is arriving, I start singing “Summertime”….the Will Smith version.I know, I know I am showing my age,but that´s exactly how I feel. With Vitamin D being so heavily in the media as the sunshine vitamin, I think it´s time to change it to the “Summertime vitamin”!. While locals do not use sunscreen, I stand out like a sore thumb in this town with my face covered with sunscreen looking like a Eastern Cape Makweta lady.
Absorption of Vitamin D has been shown to be reduced in people living in colder, less sunny climates as well as in individuals with darker skin, those who are obese and the elderly….and of course those who use a lot of sunscreen. In addition pregnant lactating women and children also have higher requirements. Whilst the latest guidelines have increased the dietary requirement of Vitamin D up to 600IU per day, obtaining this from dietary means alone has proven to be difficult for some people. As per my previous entry, the intake of liver ,eggs and oily fish is known to be low. Eventhough some cereals and spreads have been fortified with Vitamin D, the overall intake in a day would not meet the body requirements and therefore most people would need a supplement. Vitamin D has been been linked with improved immunity, brain function,prevention of cancer and bone fractures and numerous other diseases. The list is endless and hence taking this hormone seriously is no joke. Exposure to sunlight for 15-20 minutes per day can increase blood levels of Vitamin D and promote conversion of in the inactive form of Vitamin D (D2) in the skin to the active form (D3) in the body.
From a Nutrigenomic perspective, Bone health is assessed via the Vitamin D receptor gene or VDR. This gene´s function is not entirely clear although it has been linked to intestinal calcium absoprtion which is mediated by Vitamin D2. Common allelic variations include BSM1,Taq1 andFok1.Polymorphisms in the VDR gene have been associated with Hyperparathyroidism, Diabetes,reduced insulin sensitivity and Osteoporosis. Variations in VDR have also been linked to intrauterine growth and height in children and appears to be mostly prevalent in caucasians with an incidence of (13-18%).
Whilst I am not in favour of performing Nutrigenomic screens on children, I do believe that we should take the best care to ensure that for optimal development of children and to reach optimal bone mass, we should supplement our dietary intake of calcium and Vitamin D whilst pregnant and breastfeeding and giving a Vitamin D supplement to children when weaning begins according to Dietetic recommendations. Of course not to forget the importance of outdoor play and exercise!!!
Summer Summer Summertime…….!
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is not a substitute for medical advice. For specific advice on a health condition contact a medical healthcare professional