How Vitamin D can protect your Brain

For a lot of us Asians, we want fair, smooth porcelain skin, much like our yummy soft tofu or beancurd puddings that we eat as a staple. A student from an article by Martin (2010), when asked about fairer skin was quoted as saying “If my skin is lighter, I will be happier because I think I look good. It makes my emotion better, yes.” Just walking into Changi airport, I was swamped with numerous skin whitening products. Even when I went to Sephora at ION Orchard, the person at the MAC counter recommended a “brighter” foundation for my tan skin colour. When I am out and about on a hot day with my adorable mum, out pops the umbrella to shield her against the rays of the sun preventing her from getting a T-Shirt tan. Walking along Orchard road, it is no surprise to see umbrellas popping out on a hot day, where the streets are drenched with sunlight. asian-1294263_960_720.png

Sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D and we really shouldn’t be straying away from it. A recent study conducted by Duke-NUS Medical school on Chinese elderly in Singapore; found that Vitamin D can help to maintain a healthy brain. Individuals with low Vitamin D levels are 2-3 times more at risk of cognitive impairment.

So what is Vitamin D and where can we get it?

Vitamin D is synthesised when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet or UV rays from the sun. Vitamin D can also be found as a supplement that is available at the chemist,pharmacies and in some foods. However, before we rush to consume copious amounts of vitamin D tablets or get a sunburn, there are some things that we need to consider.

We need to take everything in moderation and too much Vitamin D has potential adverse effects on our body as seen in Table 1 below from the US Department of Health and Human Services. The table also provides some information on the recommended levels of Vitamin D. Get your Vitamin D levels checked out with your local General Practitioner (GP) to find out what your recommended daily allowance should be before starting on supplements.

Table 1: Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] Concentrations and Health* [1]
nmol/L** ng/mL* Health status
<30 <12 Associated with vitamin D deficiency, leading to rickets
in infants and children and osteomalacia in adults
30 to <50 12 to <20 Generally considered inadequate for bone and overall health
in healthy individuals
≥50 ≥20 Generally considered adequate for bone and overall health
in healthy individuals
>125 >50 Emerging evidence links potential adverse effects to such
high levels, particularly >150 nmol/L (>60 ng/mL)

* Serum concentrations of 25(OH)D are reported in both nanomoles
per liter (nmol/L) and nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
** 1 nmol/L = 0.4 ng/mL

Source: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.

 

What are some foods that contain Vitamin D? 

Several food sources of vitamin D are listed in the infographic below.

new-piktochart

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2011. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndlexternal link disclaimer.

Please note that Jo does not work or receive any funding from the company or organisation in this article.

 

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