Vitamin D – the sun and cod liver oil vitamin
Vitamin D is often related to cod liver oil (CLO), fish and sunshine, but what is vitamin D and why is it important for your body? Did you know that, technically, vitamin D is not even a vitamin?
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that contributes to a number of important functions related to the minerals in the body. These include maintaining normal levels of calcium in the blood, using the calcium in the body, and absorbing phosphorus and calcium from the small intestine. In addition, vitamin D contributes to the reabsorption of calcium in the kidneys, allowing the body to benefit from existing minerals. Through these effects, vitamin D plays a major role in maintaining normal bone structure and muscle function throughout the body. Vitamin D also helps to maintain a functional immune system in both children and adults.
Vitamin D in CLO
CLO has been an important source of vitamin D for hundreds of years and became popular in Norway when Peter Möller revolutionised the production of CLO in 1854. Möller’s cod liver oil is extracted from the liver of the Northeast Arctic cod, which migrates to the coast of Norway every year. This high quality oil is naturally rich in not only vitamin D, but also vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.
A 5 ml spoonful of Möller’s CLO contains 10 micrograms of vitamin D, which corresponds to the recommended daily intake for people between 2 and 75 years of age. A daily intake of 20 micrograms of vitamin D is recommended for the over 75 age group.
Vitamin D in food
Vitamin D exists in several forms, of which the forms D2 and D3 are most common. Vitamin D2 originates from non-animal sources such as plants, yeast and mushrooms, while Vitamin D3 originate from animal sources such as eggs, oily fish, fish roe, fish liver and CLO (extracted from cod liver). Both forms of vitamin D are health promoting, but research has indicated that vitamin D3 may be more easily absorbed, broken down and used by the body. Hence food substances of animal origin are recommended to ensure an optimal effect of vitamin D.
Below is a list of seven different foods and supplements, together with the quantity required to meet the daily intake of 10 micrograms.
- Vitamin D enriched milk – 1250 g
- Salmon – 88 g
- Egg yolk – 83 g
- Enriched mushroom – 75 g
- Cod liver – 11 g
- Möller’s Cod Liver Oil – 5 g
Recent research shows that edible mushrooms can be enriched with vitamin D2, through artificial ultra-violet light, while the mushroom is still growing, and also after it is harvested. Fifteen minutes in direct sunlight is enough to produce 5 to 20 micrograms of vitamin D2 in 85 grams of mushrooms, regardless of type or season.
The traditional sources of vitamin D are oily fish and fish liver, which contain large amounts of vitamin D in the form of D3, as well as healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamin D from the sun
You probably know that the sun is a source of vitamin D but, in fact, it’s your own body that produces vitamin D in the form of D3 when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. This is why vitamin D is technically not a vitamin, as vitamins are defined as nutrients the body can’t produce on its own. However, this production is dependent on adequate sunshine on large areas of the skin for up to 20 minutes a day, depending on your skin tone. The darker your skin, the longer you have to be exposed to direct sunlight to produce enough vitamin D in your body.
Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can, in some cases, cause osteoporosis. This is because both teeth and legs become weaker if levels of vitamin D and calcium are too low. Although osteoporosis usually occurs in old age, it is important to maintain a normal and healthy bone structure throughout life.
There can be many reasons for vitamin D deficiency. In the Northern Hemisphere some people may be particularly vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency due to the lack of adequate sunlight in winter. Some people may not include enough vitamin D in their diet. In these cases, Möller’s CLO is a good option to ensure the recommended daily intake of 10 micrograms is met.