Vitamin D is a key nutrient that your body needs a sufficient supply of in order to stay strong and healthy. But what you may not know is that this vitamin actually comes in two forms – D2 and D3. And knowing the difference can be tricky. We’ve outlined everything you need to know about Vitamin D3 and what it does for your health, from the foods you’ll find it in, to the importance of getting enough each day for your health.
What is Vitamin D3?
Vitamin D3 is actually produced by the skin when it’s exposed to UV rays from the sun. When we spend time outdoors, especially on sunnier days, the body is capable of producing everything that it needs where this vitamin is concerned. However, sunlight isn’t always enough and it can be tricky striking the balance between getting enough sunlight for your vitamin levels while also staying safe and avoiding skin damage.
In the UK, the sun is rarely strong enough to trigger the production of D3, and if you live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of sun, it can be hard for you to get the quantity you need for good health. The NHS recommends that everyone takes a supplement, in the form of vitamin D tablets, to ensure they’re getting enough of this nutrient each day.
Can I get D3 through my diet?
There are some food sources that Vitamin D3 is found in, however it’s only in animal products, so vegans and vegetarians would need to supplement their diet with a vitamin tablet. You can add D3 to your diet through eating oily fish, liver, egg yolks, butter and any fortified foods that have D3 added to them, such as bread or cereals.
Why is Vitamin D3 important for my health?
Vitamin D plays several roles in the body to maintain good health. It’s important for our immune defences, as well as building and maintaining strong muscles, particularly in ageing, and has been studied for its ability to aid calcium absorption in the bones. Newer studies have also found that Vitamin D3 may play a role in our cardiovascular health and supporting healthy inflammatory responses. So, as you can see, it’s an essential vitamin that you don’t want to miss out on.
Vitamin D3 is just one half of the overall Vitamin D compound, but it’s a key element to your health and wellbeing. While D2 is found in plants, D3 is an animal-based nutrient found in the likes of egg yolks, oily fish and butter. But our bodies are also able to convert sunlight into Vitamin D3 through our skin. In order to ensure you’re getting enough Vitamin D3, it’s a good idea to spend 20 minutes in the sunshine each day, safely and taking precautions to protect your skin from sun damage, as well as eating foods rich in this nutrient and supplementing if need be.