Vitamin D is one of the few nutrients that the body is able to synthesise by itself. When your body is exposed to sunlight, it makes its own Vitamin D. In fact, sunlight is the main source of Vitamin D for most people, since it is not found in abundance in the kinds of things that they eat and drink.
Given that we get most of our daily requirement from sunlight, you may be wondering why this micro-nutrient is worthy of mention when it comes to the Paleo diet. The reason it is a subject of discussion is that it is one of the few nutrients that Paleo diet followers are likely to be deficient in.
Where Does Vitamin D Come From?
The human body makes Vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sun’s UVB rays. If you live in a northern climate which does not see a lot of sunlight, you work nights, or you just don’t go out a lot during the day, you may end up being deficient in this important vitamin. In fact, even if you live in a place that sees a lot of sun, if you habitually cover up and wear strong sunscreen (a good habit, considering the severity of skin cancer), then you could still be deficient in this vitamin.
What Is It Used For?
This vitamin is used for several important functions in the human body, including aiding in calcium absorption, modulating cell growth, boosting immune function and reducing inflammation. Deficiency can lead to poor bone health, rickets, bone pain and muscle weakness. Children who are deficient in this nutrient are more likely to experience severe problems than adults, but osteomalacia can develop in people of all ages.
Alternative Sources of Vitamin D
While sunlight is the main source of this vitamin, there are dietary sources available and most of those sources are compatible with the Paleo diet. For example, you can boost your intake of this valuable vitamin by taking cod liver oil supplements or by eating salmon, tuna, sardines, liver, beef and eggs.
Many processed foods, including orange juice, cereal, margarines and breads are fortified with important vitamins and minerals. If you are following the Paleo diet you should stay away from those foods. Fortifying processed grains with vitamins and minerals is a bad idea because grains damage the lining of your gut and contain substances which impair the absorption of most of the nutrients that are found in the grains anyway. Adding extra nutrients is simply putting a sticking plaster on a bigger problem – the issue that we are not supposed to be eating grains in such a high quantity to begin with. The same is true for milk and dairy products that are fortified with vitamins. Humans are the only species that drinks milk as adults and lactose intolerance is a real issue for a huge percentage of the population. Instead of trying to ignore that issue, why not eat meat, fish and vegetables and enjoy the kind of nutrition that your body needs?