When it comes to vitamins and minerals, we all need a certain amount each day to meet our requirements. Sometimes this amount changes-for example as we age, change our level of physical activity or when women fall pregnant. But for Vitamin D, the amount we need actually changes with the seasons. If this is all sounding a bit astrological then bear with us! Read on to find out exactly why you need more Vitamin D during the winter months and what you can do to get enough.
What is Vitamin D and why do I need it?
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that are used in the body to regulate levels of calcium and phosphorus. These are minerals which are super important for teeth, bone and muscle health. So, it makes sense that Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to muscle weakness, as well as skeletal problems such as Osteomalacia and Rickets. Low levels of Vit D have also been linked with depression and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Vitamin D in the Diet
Good food sources of Vitamin D are relatively few. Things such as oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks all provide a good dose. However, if you follow a plant-based diet or don’t have meat, fish or eggs with every meal, it’s likely you’re not meeting requirements with diet alone. Some foods are fortified to contain more Vitamin D, but again these are usually animal-based products such as meat and cheese.
The Sunshine Vitamin
The good news is that by the wonder of Mother Nature we can actually get all the Vitamin D we need from sunlight! UVB rays from the sun provide the cholesterol in our skin cells with the energy it needs to synthesize Vitamin D3. This is the active form which can be utilized in the body. For this reaction to happen UVB rays have to be of a certain strength and must fall on the skin which is directly exposed to sunlight, so it doesn’t work if your skin is covered by clothes.
From around April to September most of us should be able to meet our Vit D requirements with sunlight alone. But from October to March, when the dark nights are cutting in and we begin to hibernate from the cold, our exposure to sunlight falls drastically.
Vitamin D During the Winter Months
It’s autumn – the days are short and the nights are long. If you do venture out you’re covered from head to toe in scarves, hats and gloves. Sunbathing is a distant memory and if you want a tan you’ll have to get it out of a bottle! The Great British summer is officially over – and so are your chances of getting enough Vitamin D from sunlight.
But it’s vital that you continue to meet your requirements – studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency affects almost 20% of adults in the UK in the winter. Aside from sunlight, there are two other ways to make sure you get enough Vitamin D – dietary intake or supplements.
Natural Nutrients Vegan Vitamin D3
As mentioned earlier, it’s difficult to meet Vitamin D requirements through diet alone. Taking a daily supplement is often the most convenient and reliable way to make sure you’re getting enough.
Our Vitamin D3 supplement offers 1000IU or 25mcg in each capsule, which is 250% RDA for Vitamin D. We use a plant sourced Cholecalciferol making it suitable for vegans and vegetarians and providing you with Vitamin D in the active form – ready to be absorbed and do its magic in the body.
We recommend taking 3 capsules per day with food to support bone and muscle maintenance, boost immune function and ward off the winter blues. As Vitamin D is fat-soluble, taking with a source of fat can help to better absorb your supplement. Healthy sources of fat include olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.
One more thing…
Remember, you need Vitamin D year-round. Whilst UVB rays will help meet requirements in the summer, getting too much sun puts you at risk of sunburn, aging of the skin, eye damage and even skin cancer. What’s more, factors such as time of day, skin color, location and keeping skin covered can all inhibit synthesis of Vitamin D from sunlight.
Thanks for reading,
Natural Nutrients Nutritionist