Do you wear sunscreen when you step out into the sun? If the answer is “yes of course”, then let us tell you: you might be hampering the penetration of vitamin D. No, we aren’t kidding!
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which is required by all age groups to keep their body going. More than a vitamin it works like a hormone as it helps with the regulation of genes, improving immunity, and is involved in calcium absorption which is needed for bone and spine health.
While you might be standing in the sun for 20 minutes on a daily basis or even consuming vitamin D supplements—the truth, this doesn’t guarantee that your body is absorbing the dose you are providing.
That’s why we got Amreen Shaikh, head dietician and nutritionist at Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai to guide us through the process of we can ensure our body absorbs vitamin D:
1. The quantity of vitamin D in your supplement matters
Whatever you eat, the quantity matters and so is the case with vitamin D. Ms Shaikh suggests that you need to check for the right dosage of these supplements with their doctor and follow it to the T.
“The timing of taking these supplements also matters for better absorption, and I don’t mean morning or evening. Vitamin D supplements should be taken along with the major meal of the day then whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Taking it with a fruit, tea, coffee, or in-between meals won’t let the absorption happen,” she says.
2. Focus on other nutrients as well
“For better absorption of vitamin D, you must include vitamin K, magnesium, and zinc in your diet. They speed up the absorption procedure and reduce your likelihood of being vitamin D deficient,” she suggests.
3. Eat ghee and healthy oils
If you are on a strict diet and have been avoiding healthy fats, then vitamin D will never be able to penetrate deep in the body. According to Ms Shaikh, ghee or oil taken in moderation will never harm you. And because vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, it needs healthy fat for better absorption.
“Unfortunately fat has a really bad reputation and I have seen people giving up on it without thinking it through. I’ll suggest eating 3 to 4 spoons of oil or ghee daily. You can eat two spoons of ghee and one of oil, or vice-versa. Just maintain the balance and you are good to go,” she explains.
4. Include fortified cereals and milk in your meal
“Fortified cereals and milk helps in boosting the absorption of vitamin D so must include them in your diet too,” she suggests.
5. Stay stress-free
When you are stressed, your body releases hormones that affect your gut and lead to irritable bowel movement which then affects your intestine. The fact is that vitamin D is absorbed in the intestine and hence your gut health plays an important role in its absorption. So it is imperative that you manage your stress and keep your gut healthy by including probiotics in your diet.
6. Include seafood in your diet
“Fish and seafood are major animal sources of vitamin D. The vitamin D present in them is better absorbed by the body, as compared to plant-based sources,” she suggests.
But food is not everything! Ms Shaikh also says: “Expose yourself to sunlight on a daily basis to get some vitamin D because just food won’t help. Just five to 20 minutes in the sun from 9 AM to 11 AM is all you need.”.