Feeling the winter blues? Discover the benefits of vitamin D
Many of us start to feel blue when winter rushes in, with the cold, the dark, and the abundance of viruses circling our workplaces.
It’s hard not to feel blue when you’re sniffling and sneezing the day away, right?
That’s where this sunny little saviour known as vitamin D comes in to wash away those winter woes.
If you don’t already know the benefits of vitamin D, it’s time to get in the know - keep reading to discover how you can feel better this winter by introducing vitamin D into your routine.
What is vitamin D and where does it come from?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient your body needs to function as it should, but we’ll delve into the benefits later on.
You can get vitamin D from certain foods, supplements and sunlight.
When direct sunlight touches your skin, it converts into the chemical calciferol, which reacts with your body to create vitamin D.
The quantity of vitamin D your skin produces will depend on many things: the time of day, season, latitude and your skin’s pigmentation (the darker this is, the less vitamin D you make).
What are the benefits of vitamin D?
In a nutshell, vitamin D contributes to the normal function of your immune system, strengthens your bones and teeth, aids muscle function, and helps your body to absorb minerals such as calcium.
Some studies suggest that vitamin D may help to improve symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) otherwise known as seasonal depression.
It’s claimed that sufferers have a lower amount of vitamin D in their body compared to those without the condition.
There are assertions that vitamin D can benefit a wide range of conditions, from cancer to diabetes, but it’s important to always take these claims with a pinch of salt.
We know that vitamin D can give your immune system a well needed boost, so by increasing your vitamin D intake, you could contract less viruses like the common cold or flu.
Why do we need extra vitamin D during winter?
While vitamin D isn’t a miracle cure for illnesses, during winter, many of us become deficient in the vitamin as we aren’t getting enough sunlight.
This lack of sunlight is partly due to the season and because most of us tend to spend less time outdoors due to the cold, unappealing weather.
Thus, if we aren’t getting the required amount of vitamin D from the sun, then it reduces the effectiveness of our immune system, increasing our chances of becoming unwell.
A lack of vitamin D can bring on symptoms of fatigue, aches and pains, and mood changes.
The NHS advises that during autumn and winter when the sunlight isn’t as strong, we should increase our vitamin D intake in order for us to stay healthy.
According to the NHS, adults should take 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day, which is equivalent to one normal strength supplement.
How can I get vitamin D?
You should primarily get your vitamin D from the sun as it’s quite difficult for you to achieve the recommended dosage of vitamin D through food or drink alone (but you shouldn’t rely on the unreliable sun too much during winter!)
That’s why during autumn and winter the NHS advises you to take a supplement in order for your vitamin D intake to be at the right levels.
However, if you’re looking to increase the amount of vitamin D in your diet, it can be found in your breakfast staples, like eggs, milk, and fortified orange juice and cereals.
It’s also present in oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, in addition to red meat and liver.
Supplementing your vitamin D is not only the best choice during wintertime (always rely on the natural sunshine during spring and summer) but it’s an easier option too, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
Vitamin D has many benefits for our health, from protecting us against cold and flu viruses, to helping us maintain strong bones and teeth.
No time is more important than winter to ensure you and your family are getting the adequate levels of vitamin D to stay healthy and happy.
Now, go and stock up on your vitamin D supplements and get ready to see the sunny side of winter.
If you need any more information about vitamin D, visit the NHS website.