This post is sponsored by Halal Living , however, as usual, all opinions are my own.
We hear of vitamins and minerals daily, whether it’s through recommendations from friends and family, ads on the TV and Internet, or boasting claims on foods at the grocery store. Usually most of it goes right over our heads, and that’s okay to admit because vitamins are a complicated topic to understand! Trying to learn all at once all the different types of vitamins, where they come from and how much you need is enough to make anyone’s head spin!
Luckily, for the most part if you are eating a well balanced diet you don’t have to worry too much about getting enough vitamins. However, there are certain cases and times where paying closer attention to a certain vitamin to make sure that you’re getting enough of it can be better for your health. The benefits can be either both short term or long term. For example, becoming a vegetarian may prompt you to look more closely at your iron and vitamin B12 intake.
If you're a Muslim woman living in the Northern parts of the world (like North America and Northern Europe), you should be thinking a little more about Vitamin D.
You may need extra Vitamin D if: • You are a Muslim woman who tends to cover more skin outside (whether it is covering your arms/legs, wearing a hijab, or even wearing a niqab) • You are living in a country with climate patterns resulting in long winters and less sun exposure • You are not consuming a well balanced diet with foods high in vitamin D
• You have a darker skin tone
If one of these factors sound like you, you may need a Vitamin D supplement.
What is Vitamin D?
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, you actually get most of your Vitamin D not from food, but from exposure to the sun! When under the sun, the skin can synthesize the vitamin, and then used in the body for many different functions. One of the main functions of vitamin D in the body is for bone health as it plays a major role in maintaining calcium levels. Calcium and vitamin D work together to ensure bones stay strong and healthy. Vitamin D may also reduce the risk of many health conditions such as multiple schlerosis and certain cancers. There is still research being conducted so that we can better understand the role and benefits of Vitamin D.
Food Sources of Vitamin D
You can also get vitamin D from a few food sources. Vitamin D in foods can be found in salmon (1 serving of salmon is enough to meet your daily needs! Check out my recipe for Tandoori Salmon Tacos here).
In Canada, most milk (dairy and plant based) is fortified with Vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be found in egg yolk. However, when the long winter days hit, it's very likely that the average Canadian will not be seeing enough sun to synthesize it from their skin, nor eating Vitamin D rich foods in large amounts every day.
Why Vitamin D is Important for Muslim Women
Most Muslim women tend to dress modestly, meaning less of their skin is exposed for the sub. In a place like Canada, where the sun is not properly seen for half the year, vitamin D becomes of great concern. You may not be eating vitamin D rich foods daily. If you have darker skin, even when you are exposed to the sun, the absorption rate is a lot lower.
It is important to make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D as there can be many negative long term effects. As Vitamin D helps in the maintenance of Calcium and healthy bones, not having enough vitamin D can result in complications related to bone pain, and increased sensitivity to bone fractures and osteoporosis. As research emerges, it is apparent that Vitamin D is a critical nutrient in maintaining health and preventing health conditions in the future. As most effects are long term and not felt immediately, it’s easy to feel the need to overlook Vitamin D.
Tips on Supplementing
Vitamin D is commonly measured in International Units (IU), and the recommended daily amount is 600IU. In the summer, this amount can actually be achieved through only spending 5-10min outside with all skin on the arms, legs, face and hands exposed to the sun. For Muslim women, this will not likely happen often enough to be sufficient. Therefore, after considering diet and all potential vitamin D sources, it may be beneficial to consider supplementing vitamin D.
I would recommend a dosage of 1000 IU, especially if you are not eating foods rich in Vitamin D on a daily basis. However, if your Vitamin D levels are consistently low, your doctor may prescribe a mega dose.