Welcome back lovelies!
Step 2 – Small Steps to Big Change: Vitamin D
What happens to YOU when the season changes? The clocks going back definitely marked the start of the winter season for me. Getting up in the morning seems harder and our bodies are working hard to fight off fatigue and viruses.
Ensuring your body has enough Vitamin D is a good way to support the immune system (which takes a beating during the winter months) along with cardiovascular and bone health.
Vitamin D is super important for bone health as it helps the body keep the right balance of calcium and phosphorus. Without adequate vitamin D, not enough calcium is deposited into bones to keep them strong and healthy. And bone health is a big thing, especially for growing little ones. In fact, there is concern about a reemergence of vitamin D deficiency in children in developed countries, which can lead to various health concerns, including rickets. This painful bone disease was very common in children before the discovery of Vitamin D in the early 20th Century.
So if you have growing children then this is definitely something to pay attention to!
Another reason to check out your D levels, especially in winter, is in supporting your mental health. With reduced daylight and colder weather keeping us indoors more (in the northern hemisphere, anyway), vitamin D levels are often low during the winter months. Recent research found a significant relationship between low vitamin D levels and heightened levels of depression. A different study also shows depression was found to be more than two times more likely in vitamin D deficient people.
So, if you are struggling with depression or any mental health concerns, first, know you are not alone and second, please consider looking at your Vitamin D levels with a blood test*
The Sunshine Vitamin!
My nutritional training has taught me to celebrate and respect our biochemical individuality. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to health and wellness. With this in mind it’s hard to come up with a blanket statement on how exactly to support your body with Vitamin D.
It depends on so many factors: your skin type, current blood levels of Vit D, diet, digestion, lifestyle, exposure to sun and where you live.
We get 80% of our Vitamin D through sunlight exposure on bare skin but Vitamin D can only be made in our skin by exposure to sunlight when the sun is high in the sky. So, the further you are from the equator the harder your body has it in making Vitamin D during the winter. Of course if you’re blessed to live in places like South Africa, then this isn’t an issue for you as the sun is strong enough for you to make vitamin D year-round. For those of us who live in equally beautiful, but cooler countries in the northern hemisphere, supplementing your Vitamin D is definitely recommended.
The foods which naturally contain vitamin D include fresh fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines), liver, mushrooms and egg yolks.
But as many of us don’t eat enough fatty fish, liver or mushrooms, and may also live through the winter months in a country where the sun is not powerful enough to support Vitamin D production, supplementation is recommended.
In addition, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, have any digestive disorder, such as food allergies or coeliac disease which may interfere with absorption, supplemental Vitamin D is important.
The Vitamin D council offers a comprehensive review into everything related to Vit D and is a great starting point to educate yourself. They provide information on the different supplement doses but personally I would aim for 400IU-1000IU of Vitamin D in D3 form, per day for children and between 1000IU – 2000IU for adults.
The Solgar brand is a favourite in my family and it comes in a range of different doses.
Vitamin D supplements are pretty safe but check here for full information of conditions that require you to consult your GP before supplementing.
*I do recommend everyone checking out their Vitamin D levels as part of a comprehensive health MOT. I’ll be covering the “Health MOT’ topic in January as so many people ask me what they should get checked out when having blood tests done!