Vitamin D – your winter helper

11 October, 2018

We are approaching winter which offers lots of good things to look forward to, like cosy nights in front of the fire and lovely warming foods. Winter also means less sunshine, which means we need to look at our vitamin D intake.

The sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin this is because we need sunlight to help us synthesise this special nutrient. In this country, we only get sunlight worth synthesising between the months of April and September and 10am–2pm each day on a sunny non-cloudy day!

This means that we can only produce our own supply of vitamin D during the summer. The winter months do not provide enough sunlight for our bodies to synthesise meaning we can become deficient in this important vitamin.

Why do we need Vitamin D?

EFSA recognises the following about Vitamin D:

It contributes to the:

  • Maintenance of normal bones
  • The normal function of the immune system
  • Normal growth of and development of bones in children
  • Normal blood calcium levels
  • Normal muscle function
  • Maintenance of normal teeth

As you can see Vitamin D is very important for us and helps maintain a healthy immune system, strong teeth, bones and muscles. Not only that Vitamin D is an important nutrient which is also helpful for:

  • Alleviating depression
  • Managing our weight
  • Keeping our hormones in balance
  • Fighting colds and flu
  • Preventing chronic diseases such as:
    • Heart disease
    • Dementia
    • Autoimmune diseases

Who needs Vitamin D?

There are a number of groups of people that will be vulnerable:

  • The frail and elderly who do not get outdoors.
  • The busy bees in their offices who barely see daylight!
  • Anyone with darker skin as their skin does not absorb sunlight as easily.
  • Anyone living in areas of high pollution.
  • Those who use sun cream without allowing their skin to receive some natural sunlight – 15 minutes in the summer is enough.
  • Children.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Anyone who does not include oily fish in their diet.
  • Residents of areas like Scotland where there can be less natural daylight.
  • People who suffer from an under active thyroid.

This summer was wonderfully sunny! What was so striking was how happy people were and how much time they spent outside. Normally the best, sunniest part of the day has gone by the time we get home from work or school. This year allowed us to be outside right up until bedtime, we truly lived the al fresco life!

The difference in people’s mood and lifestyle is a clear demonstration of what a powerful mood enhancer sunlight can be. On the other hand it's easy to see how Vitamin D deficiency is associated with mood and depression. I know how easily my mood shifts according to the light factor. Like many people, I am uplifted on a sunny day and subdued on a grey day.

Seasonal Affected Disorder

Winter, whilst delightful for some, brings others down; the grey days and the cold are a prompt for conditions like SAD – Seasonal Affected Disorder. This condition is very much akin to depression but is directly associated with the seasons, hence its name. It can make life difficult for anyone who suffers from it. SAD is associated with serotonin deficiency.

As ever nutrients in the body do not work in isolation and Serotonin and Vitamin D are an important partnership. Vitamin D3 facilitates the production of serotonin, our happy hormone. Serotonin is a hormone that is created in the gut from the amino acid tryptophan.

Types of Vitamin D

  • Ergocalciferol is D2 which is a plant-based source and not as easily absorbed by the body.
  • Cholecalciferol is D3 which is the most easily absorbed form of D3.

Typical uses:

D3 works in conjunction with K2, Magnesium and Calcium, in particular, to ensure we have good bones and muscles.

Vitamin D is an important co-hormone working as an essential part of the endocrine system. These hormones work in conjunction with each other and need to achieve the correct balance for the body to work properly. An imbalance will lead to the body not performing as well.

I have an under-active thyroid and using extra vitamin D certainly gave me a boost and acted very quickly too.

D3 is involved in many of the body processes and we believe it will continue to have further discoveries made about it for some time yet.

How can I help myself?

  • We always advise you that a healthy balanced diet that comprises food from organic sources will provide you with a great basis for a healthy life.
  • During the winter months, we recommend you take Vitamin D as a supplement. To help you stay healthy we have a promotion on the fabulous BetterYou products. These British made products come in a spray form which is an easy way to get your daily dose of vitamin D. Even better there are three different doses including one for your little ones.
  • Supplementing is the easy choice and ensures your body get enough of this important nutrient to work properly. This vitamin is so important we do encourage people to supplement daily because it is so vital to so many different body functions.
  • If you are vegan or vegetarian do not worry there are plant-based supplements providing vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D is fat soluble so if you were outside a lot this summer and exposed your skin to sunlight you will have a store but it won’t be enough to get you through the winter.
  • Vitamin D rich foods include oily fish, egg yolks, butter, fortified foods, avocado, dairy products nuts and seeds.
  • Eat meat and poultry as they contain tryptophan.
  • Our sunny bright winter days may not give you extra vitamin D but they are still enjoyable to make the most of them!
  • If all else fails book that winter sun holiday!

Vitamin D is such an all-rounder providing us with support for our bones, our immunity, hormones and protection against chronic disease. This vital nutrient needs to be part of your daily regime. Supplementing is the most effective way to ensure you do not become deficient.

Just to remind you we have a special offer on Vitamin D – we want you to have a healthy winter!

We love to hear your comments and feedback, please let us know what you think of our blog.

At this time of year many of us will be feeling the lack of sunshine in our lives, we have written various blogs around the subject:

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