The Sunshine Vitamin

Nutritionist Dr Emily Prpa from Yakult shares 6 things you may not know about vitamin D

Reading time: 4 minutes

With the NHS advising that everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter, now is the perfect time to swot up on the ‘sunshine vitamin’, to make sure your body gets the amount it needs for the colder months.

The human body needs 10mcg of vitamin D a day to support the maintenance of healthy bones, teeth and muscle function by helping the body effectively absorb calcium. It also regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. Plus, getting enough vitamin D is essential to keep your immune system running smoothly.

Lack of vitamin D may lead to an illness called rickets in children and bone pain and muscle weakness in adults – which means you’re more likely to have a fall. However, in the UK our bodies cannot make vitamin D from the sunshine all year long so it’s crucial to know how to increase your intake in the colder months through other sources like food.

Dr Emily Prpa, Nutritionist and Science Manager at Yakult sheds light on the top six things you may not know about vitamin D, including the shadow rule, sources of vitamin D and how much sunshine you actually need.

  1. You can’t make vitamin D through a window
    Although it may feel like it’s possible on some days, your body can’t make vitamin D through a window. This is because the UV rays your body needs to make the vitamin can’t pass through the windowpane. It’s therefore important to spend time outdoors and make sure your skin is (safely) exposed directly to sunlight for short periods, to help ensure your body makes enough of the vitamin.
  1. Vitamin D can be found in some foods
    The sun isn’t the only source of vitamin D. It can also be found in some foods like oily fish and eggs. Other dietary sources include certain fortified foods and drinks like breads, breakfast cereals, some plant milks and Yakult Balance. Each little bottle of the fermented skimmed milk drink contains vitamin D. Like humans, certain mushrooms can make vitamin D too when exposed to UV light – so popping them out in the sunlight may help to boost their vitamin D content before consumption.
  2. Your body can’t produce adequate vitamin D all year round
    Eight in 10 people think it’s possible for your body to get as much vitamin D as it needs all year round through exposure to sunlight, but this is not possible in the UK. Even on a sunny day in Autumn or Winter, you can’t make vitamin D from the sun because UV rays need to be a specific wavelength for you to produce vitamin D. Unfortunately, the sun isn’t high enough in the sky between late September and early April for these wavelengths to be available.
  3. The length of your shadow can tell you if it’s sunny enough for your body to create vitamin D
    Did you know that on a sunny day you can look at your shadow to find out if your body can produce vitamin D? If your shadow is shorter than your height, then your body will be able to make the sunshine vitamin, but if it is longer, this means that the sun is too low in the sky and the wavelengths of UVB light needed will not be available. If you’re struggling to find your own shadow, look at another object nearby to see if its shadow is taller than them, for example, a plant pot or tree.
  4. Your body may need as little as 9 minutes of sunshine a day to get your daily fix
    We don’t need to spend hours in the sun to get our daily fix of vitamin D. In fact, as little as 9 minutes can be enough to make the vitamin D needed for a whole day. This does of course vary for everyone and is influenced by factors including skin tone.
  5. What is vitamin D?
    Many might not know that vitamin D is technically not a ‘vitamin’! It’s classified as a prohormone because it’s produced by the body with the help of sunshine, unlike other vitamins which come from our diet. Vitamin D is produced in the skin and converted to an active form in the liver and kidneys

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*Yakult's bacteria L. casei Shirota, increase both the lactoballi and bifidobacteria in the gut. ** Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system and the maintenance of normal bones and muscle function. Each bottle of Yakult Balance accounts for 15% of the EU reference intake for vitamin D. Enjoy as part of a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle. Recommended consumption: 1 bottle per day.
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Yakult Balance is an easy and delicious way to support a balanced lifestyle this Autumn and beyond.

Each little bottle contains billions of friendly L. casei Shirota bacteria, which are proven to reach the gut alive and increase the bacteria in the gut*. Yakult Balance is also contains vitamin D** - which supports immunity and muscle & bone health, and vitamin E.

Available in major supermarkets, Yakult Balance has a refreshing lemon flavour, is gluten free and suitable for vegetarians.

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