Jamie Jones, Naturopath
Naturopath Jamie Jones talks about the connection between sunlight, Vitamin D and immunity
Vitamin D is a nutrient that our bodies produce naturally in the presence of sunlight. Research suggests that we use this vitamin in several ways, including:
It’s that last function that much of the Vitamin D research has focussed on. For example, studies1 have shown a link between lymphocyte and macrophage (different types of white blood cell) activity and Vitamin D levels. These cells are important parts of our immune system, and provide a “first line of defence” against infections like the common cold.
Vitamin D is known as “the sunshine vitamin” because our bodies produce it when we expose our skin to sunlight. In fact, most people’s Vitamin D intake is directly related to the amount of sunlight they get directly on their skin.
What happens is that the sun’s UV rays convert a natural compound in our skins – squalene – into Vitamin D. However, with the growing awareness of UV rays’ role in skin cancer, many people choose to cover up completely, or use high-strength sunblock to avoid sun exposure. And sensible as that is, it also means their Vitamin D levels are falling, as the squalene instead converts into cholesterol.
For people who want to avoid sunlight, some foods do contain natural levels of Vitamin D. For example, oily fish (e.g. salmon, tuna and sardines) contains some Vitamin D, as do egg yolks and beef liver. However, fish liver oils – and especially cod liver oil – are some of the richest natural dietary sources of Vitamin D available. And they’re easier and more convenient to take every day too!
So do your immune system a favour, and get some natural Vitamin D into your diet.
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