'Not without controversy, supplements can aid your health if used properly.' Photo: Getty ImagesSuch is the coverage it gets, you would be forgiven for thinking that vitamin D is the key to unlocking a healthy lifestyle. While vitamin D is important for many health outcomes such as bone formation, calcium absorption and immune function, its promotion is always counterbalanced with arguments around its elusive nature and difficulty to obtain and maintain in the body. So what are the facts and figures about vitamin D?

47% of the Irish adults aged 18 to 39 are deficient in vitamin D and it rises to 93% in dark-skinned Irish Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. Why is this the case? First of all, food sources don’t supply enough of it. We can obtain vitamin D from oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel; seafood; cod liver oil; irradiated mushrooms (which are more difficult to find and more expensive than normal mushrooms) and fortified foods such as dairy.

Only 3.1 micrograms of the 15 micrograms of vitamin D adults should be consuming daily are obtained through a typical Irish nutritional intake. This could be due to a lack of fish in Irish diets, which is four times lower than in other countries such as Iceland. Despite fish being one of the best sources of vitamin D, it only provides us with 12% of our daily intake. Some commenters note that it has to do with people not knowing how to cook fish or due to its price. This is reinforced by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), which concludes that most daily Irish food intake patterns do not provide enough vitamin D.

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