A good friend has been diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency.
This is in fact quite a common problem.
Vitamin D, also called the “sunshine vitamin” because we get most of our vitamin D through the action of the sun shining on our skin, is a fat soluble vitamin.
The fact that it dissolves in fat is important because it means the body can store it for future use.
The thinking goes that, if you get 20 minutes of sun exposure (on your arms or face) between 10am-3pm between the months of April-September, when sun’s rays are strong enough to trigger the conversion of vitamin D in our skin), your body can make enough vitamin D to see you through the winter months.
Foods rich in vitamin D include oily fish (such as herring, mackerel and salmon), liver, egg yolk, butter and some fortified foods such as margarine and breakfast cereals.
Reading through the list above, you can see that a vegetarian and vegan diets can easily be low in vitamin D.
Some of the causes of vitamin D deficiency are:
- you don’t eat enough foods right in vitamin D. If that’s the case, change your diet and start including more foods that are rich in vitamin D.
- you are overweight. Vitamin D is absorbed by fat cells which can lead to low vitamin D levels in the body. Lose weight, because if you don’t your bones can become very fragile.
- you have dark skin or always wear sun protection creams with a high factor. Be aware of your skin’s reduced ability to produce vitamin D and expose your skin more to the sun or take a supplement.
- Limited exposure to sunlight. This is easiest to treat: just spend more time outside!
- Absorption from the gut is poor. This can affect people with Crohn’s and Coeliac disease.
Deficiency symptoms in adults can be vague and unspecific and include depression, chronic fatigue and osteoporosis.
However, there is increasing evidence that vitamin D is important for more than strong bones and teeth and has many other roles within the immune system.
Low vitamin D levels in adults are linked to SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or “winter blues”, cancers, bowel disease and arthritis.
A good quality multivitamin mineral + a cod liver oil supplement every day can provide a sensible (10 micrograms) dose of vitamin D.
For more general information check out
For more specific advice I recommend you contact a Dietician.
Both ladies are registered with The British Dietetic Association, know their onions, and have between them provided the nutritional analysis and narrative of every Savvy Cook’s meal.