According to a national report published last week by the Scientific Advisory Body on Nutrition, a great many of us have worryingly low levels of Vitamin D. This is a problem for one in five adults and one in six children. Vitamin D has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Low levels are associated with a number of physical conditions, including cardio-vascular problems, obesity, cancer and osteoporosis. It is also starting to become linked with depression, although at the moment we aren't sure if low levels of Vitamin D are a cause or an effect of being depressed. Some studies have indicated that depressed individuals taking Vitamin D have reported improvement. However, more research is needed.
One theory about why we have so little of this essential nutrient is that, on average, we spend so much time indoors. Contrast this with the fact that our bodies have evolved in a Stone Age environment mostly out in the open air. Vitamin D, sometimes called the Sunshine Vitamin, is created in our bodies by a particular kind of ultraviolet light (UVB) found in sunlight.
The report suggests that we all take Vitamin D supplements, although this has not yet been formally recommended by the government. Some northern hemisphere countries, such as Finland add Vitamin D to foods like milk and margarine. Another way of boosting your levels would be to spend more time outdoors. The tricky bit is that UVB light is only present when the sun is high in the sky, (more than fifty degrees above the horizon). But catch it where you can, for around twenty minutes, and keep your forearms exposed. Going for a lunchtime walk will help with Vitamin D, exercise and a break from the stress of the day. It’s a no-brainer.
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