Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients we need – Vitamin D – Bones, Immune System, Arthritis and Hormones

health column final

I was a sunshine baby – I spent a good part of the first twelve years of my life in Ceylon as it was called before, Malta and South Africa travelling with our father who was in the Royal Navy. I was brown most of time and in those days you might have got a bit of baby lotion on your skin after sun and we did wear hats, but there were no over the counter sun blocks as such.

At various other times in my life, I have lived in sunnier climates including in Spain and I can definitely notice the difference in my health, energy levels and mental well being when I have shorter winters and more sunshine in my life. This includes much improved joint pain, general aches and pains and immune system.

When I lived in Ireland for five years back in the late 1990s, I noticed a difference in my general well-being during the winter months in particular and I began to supplement with vitamin D3 which helped. Something I did not have to do when living in the sun rich climate of Spain.  That certainly proved to me the importance of the vitamin and I do make sure that apart from including the foods that do contain a small amount of the nutrient I get outside as much as possible.

Now I am back in Ireland again, I am back on D3 but this time as a spray in conjunction with Vitamin K2, another element of healthy bones.

In my blogs on cholesterol – I mentioned that Vitamin D thinks its a hormone – and our bodies have a different process to obtain and utilise it that is partly digestive but primarily through our exposure to the sun.

Vitamin D is necessary for our bone health (aches and pains), immune system (frequent infections), arthritis (joint pain) hormonal fluctuations (SAD is more prevalent in women).

Most people think if they are taking in Calcium that they will be keeping their bones healthy but in fact Vitamin D is vital in this process.

To illustrate how important Vitamin D is to our skeleton here is a brief overview of how it works.

Our bones are living tissue that grows and regenerates throughout our lifetime. It is not static and old bone is removed and replaced with new bone continuously, a process that requires the essential elements of bone to be available from our diet and from chemical reactions in the body. There are four main components that are needed on a daily basis.
Minerals – calcium, magnesium and phosphorus – Matrix – collagen fibres (gristle) – Osteoclasts – bone removing cells and Osteoblasts– bone producing cells.

If you have ever made paper mache sculptures at school you will used a chicken wire framework first of all to establish the shape that you wanted and then overlaid your strips of wet paper and allowed them to harden. The bone making process is very similar.

A network of collagen fibres forms the base and it is then overlaid with the minerals. The strength of the finished bone is dependent on the amount of mineralisation that takes place. Osteoclasts will remove old bone when needed and this results in a need to produce new collagen matrix to attract new minerals for the repair process.

Vitamin D’s role is essential, to ensure that sufficient calcium and phosphorus is attracted to the new matrix and that the new bone is strong. If you are deficient in this vitamin more bone is discarded than replaced leading to soft and malformed bones.

There is a worrying increase in the numbers of children being diagnosed with this condition which is called rickets which is why recently the health service has suggested giving all children of 5 and upwards Vitamin D supplementation.

That is because most of our children are no longer exposed to sunlight which is the most efficient way for our bodies to produce the essential Vitamin D it needs. Consider these accumulative factors – less PE at school – increased traffic so no more playing in the streets, more apartment living without gardens, fear of child abuse and abductions so children are kept inside, more television, video games and computer time, both parents working so the children are kept after school or inside and finally when out in the rare holiday sun, children are covered in factor 40. Anything over factor 8 and our skin cannot absorb enough sunshine to produce vitamin D.

The last thing I am suggesting is that you go and lie in the midday sun for three hours and burn to a crisp but during the summer months getting 45 minutes of sunshine on your arms and chest and face with a light factor, either early to mid morning or late afternoon should be sufficient for most people.

There are also dietary sources of Vitamin D – We need at least 10ug per day and we can get this if we eat eggs and oily fish regularly during the week as part of a balanced diet. You can also take cod liver oil capsules and as I mentioned at the beginning of the post; Vitamin D is one of the few supplements that I will take through the winter months.

For the other components involved in bone health; make sure you are obtaining calcium from dairy products, oily fish such as sardines and salmon, including canned salmon, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and if vegetarian, tofu.

salmonMagnesium is found in dairy products, fish, meat, seafood, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, whole grain cereals and dark green vegetables.

wholegrainsPhosphorus can be found in the proteins in your diet such as poultry and whole grains.

vegetablesWe as adults have a responsibility to ensure the health of our children and however difficult that may be in this modern day and age giving them a safe environment to play and exercise in the sunshine has to be a priority for us all. Combined with a healthy, natural and unprocessed diet with far less sugars and these children will not run the risk of having bowed legs due to rickets.

More on Vitamin D in future posts.

©Sally Croninn Just Food for Health 1998-2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to share.

You will find all the posts on nutrients and health issues in this directory:

23 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients we need – Vitamin D – Bones, Immune System, Arthritis and Hormones

  1. Very useful post. Vitamin D deficiency has become very common problem. We get enough sunlight in India but in Urban lifestyle, people are used to Air Conditioned, closed door living, thus the deficiency. I am also a victim and is taking regular doses of Vitamin D & of course go for walks too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Elle. there are many studies on the link between dairy and bone health. Basically you can obtain the calcium you need for your bone health from plant sources such as Broccoli. There is also concern that hormones added to the feed of dairy herds and antibiotics reduce the health benefits of dairy. I work on the principle that everything in moderation and dairy products provide other nutrients other than calcium such as potassium which can help to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Part of the benefits for many children and young adults is that the milk is most often fortified with Vitamin D3 which is essential for bone health and also assists the absorption of calcium.


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  3. Hi Sally, Thanks for all that info. Most informative and helpful. Being a child in World War ll, despite rationing (rarely saw anyone obese then!), Mum made sure we had Virol, Orange juice and Cod Liver oil daily & we had plenty of vegies (home.grown). Mum & Dad lived until their 80’s & although we lost our youngest brother (the heaviest smoker among us), my other two brothers are in their 80’s and their wives, (me too) and my husband is nearly 90; his sisters 93 and 88. We all eat sensibly (tho’ cheat now and then!) Now retired to Spain, we – mostly – get a regular dose of sunshine too, lucky us. Vitamins, natural or other-wise, must help..

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Joy and I am afraid those of use in our 50s and 60s are the first generation to be introduced to fast foods and industrially produced goods. Apart from Spam… there was little in the way of packaged foods until Vesta and their delightful dried offerings. I do miss the sunshine, I dash out as soon as it appears and get a recharge…but there is no doubt in my mind that part of the success of the Mediterranean diet is the sunshine ingredient! thanks for sharing hugs xxx


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