The lowdown on vitamin D
A Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly common in the UK, so find out how to beat it this winter. Even though the summer sun is still shining, unfortunately it’s not for keeps and the autumn and winter months are incoming. It’s a great idea to get on top of this crucial vitamin before the winter months.
Why is vitamin D and what does it do?
1. It helps to regulate important minerals in our body, including calcium, which we need for healthy bones and muscles
2. It may play a role in regulating your immune system
3. It’s good for our brains and our moods. Vitamin D has been found to help regulate both neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) and the making of brain neurons, as well as providing neuroprotection as we age.
4. It may reduce our risk of breast cancer.
How do you get more vitamin D?
There are two main types of vitamin D and two main ways to get more vitamin D:
- D3 – which is from sunlight
- D2 – which is from dietary sources
Of the two, D3 is more beneficial as it is naturally produced by the body when sunlight (UVB rays) hits our skin, hence it is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’.
What foods are good for vitamin D?
A small number of foods do contain vitamin D, but not enough for our winter needs. These are:
- Oily fish – salmon, mackerel, sardines, fresh (not tinned) tuna
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Mushrooms on a windowsill! (By placing mushrooms on your windowsill, you can naturally increase their vitamin D content.)
Why you could have a vitamin D deficiency:
1. There are few foods that are rich in vitamin D, and those that are, such as fatty fish, most of us don’t eat enough of anyway.
2. We spend so much time inside, especially over winter, so there is a significantly reduced exposure to natural sunshine. And even when we do go outside, most of us wear some form of sunblock or long-sleeved clothes, which reduces the amount of UVB light we are exposed to.
3. The further away you live from the Equator, the less vitamin D-producing UVB light you are exposed to.
4. The darker your skin, the less vitamin D you produce when in the sun. Melanin, which is the substance found in skin to give it its colour, competes for UVB.
6 signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
Some of the signs of vitamin D deficiency include:
3. Low moods
4. Muscle and bone pain.
5. Hair loss
If you are experiencing any of these, and have been for a while, then go to your GP and get a blood test to confirm that vitamin D is indeed the problem.
Vitamin D supplements
Just last summer Public Health England changed its recommendation on vitamin D and now advise that all adults from the end of September to late March/early April should supplement with 10mcg of vitamin D a day.
Start beating your vitamin D deficiency today!
Written for WeHeartLiving.com