Sharing moments Menopause Young adults Bye bye Hotel Mum How you feel at home Semester abroad Language course abroad or work as an au pair? Be prepared for military training Grassrooted Pack smarter, travel better Make an impression Contraception Vegan diet Bye bye Hotel Mum – hello shared flat Big trip, small budget Finanzielle Vorsorge Planning a family Tracking fertility The right time? How men can help Fertility and diet Medical check-up What you need to know about ovulation What to do if you don’t conceive straight away Three electronic fertility and cycle trackers in comparison Planning a family and partnership Pregnancy Examinations during pregnancy Diet and nutrition Is my pregnancy progressing normally? Tips for daily life Important points for travel and holidays Is my pregnancy progressing normally? What items do I need for my baby? Where and how do I want to give birth? What do I need to pack for the hospital? How should I prepare my home for my child? Is my pregnancy progressing normally? How can I best prepare for my baby? How can I best prepare for the birth? Nutrition Parent-child relationship Preparing for breastfeeding | Sanitas Magazine Insurance Stretch marks Sleep Rupture of membranes Baby blues High-risk pregnancy Braxton Hicks & false labour Formalitites Morning sickness Family rooms Signs of a premature birth Our baby Bathing baby – what you need to know How babies hear Infant first-aid kit Baby care Is my baby developing normally? Month-to-month overview of baby development Is my baby developing normally? Baby’s development: Months 3 and 4 Baby care Breastfeeding When does a baby start eating? Weight Baby growth spurts Toys Sun protection for baby skin Teething Milk teeth: what to do in case of accident Baby’s development: Months 5 and 6 Pelvic floor exercises after birth Babyschlaf Celebrating and enjoyment Christmas and New Year’s Eve with a twist A philosophical take on pleasure Pleasure can also be found in the soup kitchen in Zurich Tips for a peaceful and stress-free Christmas Living better with cardiac insufficiency Alejandro Iglesias Hana Disch Patrizio Orlando Vaccinations and travel first-aid kit Hay fever In pursuit of happiness Seven tips for a happier daily life Kids in lockdown Online addiction Women's hearts Decisions Decision-making tips Report from the hospital Donating a kidney Life decisions Emigrating to South America Geocaching Sexuality Erectile dysfunction Young people and sexuality Queer pastor Drag queen Paprika Sexually transmitted infections What does LGBTQIA+ stand for? Gender medicine HPV Families of transgender people Medically assisted suicide Types of dementia Be active Active during pregnancy Sport and exercise during pregnancy Antenatal exercise classes Standing properly Healthy eating Green smoothies Vitamin D Good eggs, bad eggs Diet plan Healthy fats Feed your muscles How much sugar should we eat a day? How much fat should we eat a day? Lactose intolerance Healthy diet, strong immune system Low Carb E-numbers and other additives in food Personalised diet Vegan meat substitutes Healthy heart Interview with Christophe Wyss Heart-friendly sports How the mind affects the heart Taking blood pressure correctly High blood pressure: what you need to know Healthy teeth Home remedies: relief for sore gums A dentist explains Brushing up on brushing Changing habits Interview Stortpsychologie 10-step guide to changing habits Try, try, try again Fitnessmotivation Running coaching Running ABC Race in Sarnen Factors affecting condition Weekly planner Running shoes Strengthening exercises Running nutrition Complementary sport Warm-up Stretching Functional clothing Fitness tracker Shopping – sportswear Running tips for women Relaxation technique Recovery New lease of life thanks to Sanitas running coaching Sport after childbirth Postnatal exercise Taking the strain off your shoulders Kangatraining Workout while walking Expert tips Stress and relaxation Moving air Fight stress with yoga What is stress Learn how to relax Dealing with stress What is burnout? “The first step was to create boundaries” Juggling family and a career Reduce stress Stressor factors The most beautiful Swiss saunas Sweating in the sauna Breathing exercises for relaxation The right rest & recovery: debunking myths Mindfulness Sleep Constant availability: chronic stress Trend sports Fitness boxing Slackline Bouldering Fascia training Stand Up Paddling Keeping fit efficiently Swing with a smile! Vertical workout Hiking Altitude sickness Seven stroller-friendly hikes Needed: a hiking-friendly pushchair There goes the other sole! Tips on hiking with a baby Mountain lakes Winter walks Planning a family: Fertility and exercise Stair climbing Pumptrack Kids’ back Back exercises Sitting properly at work Forest fun Playing for life Promoting health and fitness Motivation Sledging Curling glossary What do you get if you cross a kite with snow? Snowshoeing Preventing falls Inline skating Swimming Swimming Wings for Life Stretching Bike tips Stretching exercises for cyclists koerper-und-kaelte Healthy teeth thanks to dental hygiene and preventive care Putting wishes into practice Tips for healthy teeth Hometraining Investigating teeth-related myths 10 tips to ease anxiety Hand care How our body regenerates The best abdominal exercises in five minutes Keeping fit on holiday Swim training aids Wie viel Sport ist gesund Gathering mushrooms – the right way | Sanitas Magazine Check-ups Five-minute stretching routine Gehirntraining Rückenschmerzen Licht Yogastile Ayurveda-Morgenroutine Tips for doing sport outside in winter Cross-country skiing for beginners Home remedies against dandruff Home remedies Home remedies for bladder infections Home remedies for a sore throat Home remedies for migraines Home remedies against excessive sweating Home remedies for a sun allergy Healthy feet, healthy back core exercises for mountain bikers Symptoms Check Sport after Corona HIIT: quick and efficient exercises Sore muscles: debunking myths Debunking swimming myths strength training for young people Exercise videos Whole-body workout Fascia training Lack of exercise Sun protection Strong mind How to be mentally strong Mental strength Psychosomatics Resilience Tips against feeling down Sleep hygiene and mental well-being Depression Panic attacks Prescription drug addiction ADHD: Symptoms in children and adults Mental illness: help for friends and family Living with autism Pressure to perform Alcoholism Blood: myths and facts Hormones Complementary medicine: the most common treatments Complementary medicine Training in line with your menstrual cycle Living together today Digital life Online addiction Digital temptation Children and digital media Smartphone neck Digital responsibility and solidarity Our brains love habit Change my habits? You’re joking! Planning a family: Difficulties trying to have a baby Planning a family: Myth vs fact Solidarity study Newcomers Living together tomorrow Digital nomads Giesserei multi-generation house The blind film director Help instead of rent Working on the move Medical practices of the future Our skin – layer by layer Generational discussion: wishes for life Hausarzt und Corona Safe return to work Corona crisis: singing together Corona crisis: Working in intensive care Corona crisis: working in a nursing home Rest and recovery: learning from children Corona crisis: voluntary work for the needy Second opinion Relationships and children Three questions that keep us awake at night Outing The nature of lying Vorsorge Finding sound health-related information online Impfstoffe entwickeln Tipps für Jugendliche in der Corona-Krise Becoming parents Diagnose: Kind im Haus Long Covid Take it easy in your free time YouTuber Aditotoro on the coronavirus pandemic Minimalism for a happy life Thanks to corona: more time for family Back to life after a paragliding accident Decluttering: the answer to chaos Living and loving with autism Synaesthesia Talking to doctors Non-verbal communication Is there really a serial killer gene? Developments for the future App check Aqualert SRC blood donor Codecheck Forest Freedom Freeletics Moment Three sleep apps reviewed PeakFinder Findery Six fitness apps reviewed Internet use High-tech trousers Prostheses Hospital of the future New skin for burns victims Online-Therapien How drugs are developed Generics A vision of the future: How we will live in 30 years Onward Overcoming erectile dysfunction Family medicine practices of the future Personalised medicine A voice for Clara Sanitas newsletter
Dossier: Healthy eating

Is vitamin D an all-rounder?

Vitamin D is important for strong bones and muscles. But especially in winter, many people suffer from a deficiency, because vitamin D is produced in the skin by sunlight. Dr Heike Bischoff-Ferrari explains how we can get more vitamin D and how much is too much.

How does the body produce vitamin D?

Vitamin D is produced when the skin is exposed to the sun. The rule of thumb is that a young adult will produce enough vitamin D of their own if they fully expose their forearms and face to the sun for 20 minutes a day. But this only applies from May to October. In the winter and early spring the sun isn’t intense enough for the body to produce enough vitamin D by itself. So you can do a lot to actively prevent vitamin D deficiency by being outdoors in the summer and autumn. But the reality is that around 50% of people don’t get enough vitamin D, especially during the winter. And as many as 40% of people don’t get enough even during the summer months.

Is food also a source of vitamin D?

Yes. In theory you can also get vitamin D from food. But in practice, the best source is fatty fish such as smoked salmon, and you’d have to eat 200 grams a day to get enough! Or you’d have to consume 20 eggs a day to get 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D, which is not a diet we’d recommend.

Why is vitamin D especially important for older people and children?

Aged skin produces vitamin D more slowly, or in smaller quantities. This means senior citizens are particularly likely to be deficient. This even applies to older people in Mediterranean countries, who tend to spend the whole day indoors because of the heat and get too little sunlight as a result.

And because sunblock reduces vitamin D, children who always go out wearing cream and clothing to protect them from the sun are also more likely to be deficient. This is why the Federal Department of Health has recently increased its recommended daily intake of vitamin D from 200 to 600 IU (international units). Vitamin D supplements are a good option if you want to be sure of preventing a vitamin D deficiency, especially since unprotected exposure or overexposure to the sun is problematic from the point of view of preventing skin cancer.

Does going to the solarium also help prevent vitamin D deficiency?

We don’t recommend going to the solarium to top up on vitamin D because there you’re usually exposed to a mixture of UVB (which produces vitamin D) and UVA (which doesn’t, and is only harmful). Not only this, but going to the solarium can increase the risk of skin aging and tumours.

What are the recommended doses for vitamin D?

In the last four years authorities in the United States, large parts of Europe and Switzerland (the Federal Office of Public Health, FOPH/BAG) have revised their recommended daily intakes for vitamin D. The new recommendations are as follows:    

  • Infants in their first year of life: 400 units per day   
  • Age 2 to 59: 600 units per day  
  • From age 60: 800 units per day

Can too much vitamin D be harmful?

Sure. But you’d have to consume more than ten times the recommended amount. The current recommended daily intake of 600-800 IU per day has a large safety margin built in, but still ensures that more than 97% of the population are not deficient in vitamin D. These safety margins are also reflected in our own physiology: if a young man or women lies in the blazing sun in their swimsuit (without sun protection) for ten minutes, their skin produces 10,000 to 14,000 units of vitamin D.

Can the body store vitamin D?

Yes, but only for three to six weeks, which is the half-life of vitamin D. This means you don’t have to worry if you don’t get enough sunlight for a day at a time or even for a whole week. Your body will soon make up the difference. On the other hand it does mean that vitamin D levels, which are usually at their highest in September (after the summer), will fall off sharply again by November if you don’t take a supplement. So a nice summer won’t keep you going through the winter – and this applies to everyone, whether they’re young or old.

Does a vitamin D supplement have to be prescribed by a doctor?

Not necessarily. You can also buy vitamin D over the counter from a chemist. Even so, we recommend talking to your family doctor, who’ll be able to tell you what the risks and implications of having too little vitamin D are, and do a blood test if they suspect a serious deficiency. The new vitamin D recommendations only advise a blood test if a serious deficiency is suspected.

Are there certain factors that can point to a vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency is most likely to affect people who:    

  • Don’t get enough exercise in the fresh air   
  • Always use sun protection   
  • Have Mediterranean or darker skin (the pigmentation acts like sunblock)   
  • Are overweight   
  • Are over 60   
  • Have or have had inflammatory bowel diseases   
  • Have osteoporosis or have suffered a bone fracture after minimal trauma or a fall   
  • Take anti-epileptic drugs (which inhibit the vitamin D metabolism in the liver)    

Each of these factors is associated with an elevated risk of vitamin D deficiency.