“D”, The Hero Vitamin

May 31, 2012

Over the last couple of years the staff in health stores seemed to spend a lot of time trying to cheer up damp customers, but this year we have certainly appreciated each day – even each hour – of sunshine.

Could the lack of sun in other years have affected the spread of coughs and colds in winter? Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the new hero vitamin as so much research has gone into its properties recently, and one of its main benefits is to strengthen the body’s immune system. Vitamin D is also vital for efficient utilisation of calcium in the body, and is usually included in bone supplements to help prevent the development of osteoporosis. There are two common forms, D2 and D3, and the most useful is thought to be the latter, also known as cholecalciferol.

Uniquely, vitamin D is derived from sunlight as well as from some animal and fish foods including cod and halibut liver oil. It is made by the reaction of UV rays on a type of cholesterol stored in our skin. The further north you go in Europe the less UV light there is, but a good summer here should supply us with sufficient as long as we don’t constantly block it out with sunscreens.

However, if you are thinking of taking supplements and are on prescribed medication, do always ask health store staff for advice. The Irish Association of Health Stores has in place a Customer Care Protocol to ensure you only are sold what is safe and suitable. Our safety record speaks for itself!

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