Winter Wellbeing: Am I Getting Enough Vitamin D?
The sun has set on Daylight Savings Time for 2019 - that wonderful extra hour of sleep officially ushering in evenings spent snuggled under a blanket, toes toasting in the glow of a fire and festive films with warm mugs of hot chocolate. The countdown to the most wonderful time of the year is on.
But you may be starting to notice just how scarce the sunlight hours are becoming during the day, and wondering what effect this has on your health each year. Perhaps you have noticed fatigue washing over you just as we passed Hallowe’en or perhaps that your mood dips from the onset of winter until springtime.
When we absorb less sunlight, our body creates less vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for helping to absorb calcium, promote bone growth, regulate insulin levels and support the health of the immune system. Symptoms of early vitamin D deficiency can include muscle pain, unexplained fatigue, hair loss, difficulty walking and overall weakness, as well as links to poor mental health and even Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The most natural source is the vitamin D created by the body itself but it is not always easy to absorb enough sunlight through the skin to produce the levels of vitamin D we need, especially for those in Northern climates and people with darker skin.
With busy modern life keeping many of us inside for the increasingly precious hours of daylight through the winter months, there is all the more need to stay mindful of how much vitamin D we miss out on. So how can we get enough for what we need?
- Eat thoughtfully: You can get vitamin D from your diet, though it is trickier than other vitamins. Egg yolks, cod liver oil and fatty fish such as tuna or salmon can be great sources of vitamin D when eaten regularly. In fact, the average person can satisfy their weekly dietary vitamin D requirement with just 2.5 servings of wild salmon per week. For plant-based diets, mushrooms, spinach and soybeans can help absorb vitamin D at a slightly less efficient rate than animal products. You can also buy calcium-fortified and vitamin D-fortified foods such as orange juice, cow’s milk, alternative milks, cereals and yoghurts.
- Find alternatives: The NHS advises considering a small daily vitamin D supplement to keep your intake steady throughout the winter months. The average adult needs no more than 600 IU of vitamin D per day; a proportion of this can be found in daily multivitamins, which typically contain around 100 IU to accompany sun and diet. If you’re unsure what kind of supplement to choose, consult your doctor for an idea of how much you ought to take on top of your diet.
- Follow the Sun!: The best and most natural source of vitamin D is through sunlight, so try to make the most of every moment you can snag in the sun. It can take from just 15 minutes of skin exposure each day to absorb what you need. Make it a daily priority to get out into the open air; the wavelengths required to produce vitamin D are lost through glass, so sitting by a window is not enough! Take your lunch break outside a few times a week, or set aside even just a quarter of an hour for a brisk, rejuvenating walk. Vitamin D can be stored in the body, so stock up on sunlight at the weekends with one of our favourite local walks in the Tunbridge Wells area.
Every body is unique, and knowing what building blocks keep your physical self at its best is the key to improving your health and strength for future life. At Natural Fit, we’re all about restoring you to your most natural self, to be a more invigorated you.
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