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3 reasons why Vitamin D is the most important vitamin of 2020 and why you need to take it daily

7 min Read

This year has seen Vitamin D in the spotlight. You’ve no doubt seen it frequently mentioned in the news recently as a vitamin we should all be taking as we head into winter on lockdown. But why, what does it do and why exactly do we need it more this winter than ever before?

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D, most commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, is a hormone required for a variety of essential functions in the body such as bone and muscle health and immunity.

There are two types of vitamin D, ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).

When choosing Vitamin D supplements, it is always recommended to choose vitamin D3, as this is directly converted by the body to the active metabolite, the active compound your body uses to carry out essential functions in the body.

Although Vitamin D2 is also sold in supplement form, research suggests vitamin D2 is less effective than vitamin D3 at raising blood levels of vitamin D and therefore this form of the vitamin is less effective in our bodies.

What are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 prescribed for?

Vitamin D2 is recommended for Rickets, Hypoparathyroidism (a rare condition where the parathyroid glands, which are in the neck near the thyroid gland, produce too little parathyroid hormone), and Familial hypophosphatemia (a group of rare inherited disorders characterised by impaired kidney conservation of phosphate and sometimes, altered vitamin D metabolism).

Whereas Vitamin D3 is indicated for dietary supplementation.

Three reasons we need Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient required for many functions in the body:

1: You need Vitamin D for bone and muscle health

Vitamin D is essential for the proper absorption of calcium, which helps to ensure proper laying of calcium in bones during young age and subsequently helps reduce the risk of bone fractures as we get older.

2: You need Vitamin D for immunity

Vitamin D is crucial for the normal functioning of our immune system1 via a variety of different mechanisms. The vitamin D receptor is present on immune fighter cells, meaning vitamin D is required to bind on to these receptors for the normal function of our B and T immune cells.

People with low vitamin D levels have been shown to have a higher risk of developing respiratory infections, asthma and pneumonia2. This is why it's so important to take Vitamin D this winter more than any other year.

3. Vitamin D-eficiency

Many factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through sunshine alone including:

  • High pollution areas

  • Using sunscreen

  • Spending more time indoors as a result of two lockdowns

  • Living in big cities where buildings block sunlight (and being in lockdown)

  • Having darker skin (the higher the levels of melanin, the less vitamin D skin can absorb)

So it’s important to get some of your vitamin D from sources besides sunlight, such as food and supplements.

Six Signs your body is low on Vitamin D

Certain population groups are at a higher risk of having low vitamin D levels.

Normally this affects older adults who generally spend less time outdoors and those with underlying health conditions that may impact their body’s absorption of vitamin D.

But having experienced two lockdowns in 2020, we’re now all facing a lack of daylight from staying at home more than usual which is why the Government is advising us to take a daily Vitamin D supplement.

Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in adults include:

  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle aches
  • Low mood

So what are the best ways of overcoming these symptoms?

1. Sunlight

We get about 90% of our vitamin D requirements from sunlight, so it is important to ensure you are getting enough at least 10 minutes of sun exposure per day. Roll up your sleeves to expose your hands and forearms, and go for a short stroll in the full sunshine.

2. Foods

Few foods contain Vitamin D naturally so some foods are fortified. This means Vitamin D has been added.

Vitamin D rich food sources include:

Food Vitamin D (µg)

Salmon

13

Sardines - 100g

4.8

Egg - 1

1

Fortified Whole Milk - 1 cup

2

Fortified Yoghurt - 100g

1

Fortified Orange Juice - 100ml

1

Fortified Mushrooms - 100g

3

3. Supplements

Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so consuming a vitamin D supplement with a fat-containing meal is ideal for optimal absorption.

How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?

Public Health England recommends adults and children over the age of one should have 10 micrograms (400IU) of vitamin D every day3. IUs are a standard measurement for drugs and vitamins, that help experts determine the recommended dose, toxicity, and deficiency levels for each person.

As we are spending more time indoors during lockdown, it is vital that everyone takes a vitamin D supplement to ensure these requirements are being met, particularly in the winter months.

10 micrograms of vitamin D is equivalent to 400 IU. When looking at food supplement packaging, it is possible that you will see both micrograms and IU on the label so it’s good to understand what IU’s mean.

Are there any side effects?

Vitamin D toxicity is generally rare.

The main consequence of vitamin D toxicity is a buildup of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea and vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination.

Vitamin D and Vegans

Vitamin D plays an important part of your daily nutrition. When it’s hard to get enough vitamin D daily through sun exposure and food alone, taking vitamin D supplements can be extremely beneficial. When choosing a vegan vitamin D, be aware some brands are not vegan-friendly. Vitamin D2 is always suitable for vegans as it mainly comes from plant sources and fortified foods but Vitamin D3 can be derived from an animal source (eg sheeps wool) or vegan friendly lichen. If you’re vegan, ensure you choose brands with D3 as Cholecalciferol from Lichen.

Ensuring your body has enough Vitamin D has always been important but this year in particular, it’s a critical vitamin to make part of your daily routine to support your immune system and give you peace of mind.


Shop the JetFuel Health drinkable vitamins containing 14 active ingredients including Vitamin D3 (as Cholecalciferol from Lichen)

1. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). (2009). Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to vitamin C and protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage (ID 129, 138, 143, 148), antioxidant function of lutein (ID 146), maintenance of vision (ID 141, 142), collagen formation (ID 130, 131, 136, 137, 149), function of the nervous system (ID 133), function of the immune system (ID 134), function of the immune system during and after extreme physical exercise (ID 144), non‐haem iron absorption (ID 132, 147), energy .... EFSA Journal, 7(10), 1226.

2. Ginde, A. A., Mansbach, J. M., & Camargo, C. A. (2009). Vitamin D, respiratory infections, and asthma. Current allergy and asthma reports, 9(1), 81-87.

3. Mayor, S. (2016). Public Health England recommends vitamin D supplements in autumn and winter.