The nights are still dark and cold but the days are already starting to get longer!
Whilst it can feel lovely to curl up at home and enjoy ‘hibernation mode’ in winter, this is when our bodies really miss the daylight and sunshine that spring brings.
Daylight and sunshine are vital to maintaining our health and wellbeing, as well as making us feel good, it’s also the best way of ensuring that we are getting enough vitamin D.
Why is Vitamin D so important?
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin which the body needs to help calcium absorption, bone development and a healthy immune system. We need it to keep our bones and teeth healthy.
A deficiency in Vitamin D can cause our bones to become soft and weak. In the most extreme form, this can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, which can cause bone pain and tenderness.
Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D
The best way is to expose your bare skin to sunlight (Ultraviolet B rays). This is very easy to do in summer as you only need to expose your skin to sunlight for half the time that it takes for it to begin to turn pink. This does not mean stripping off when its minus 2 in the middle of winter – Vitamin D may be important but its not worth risking hypothermia for! Luckily you don’t have to.
In the UK, our winter sunlight (from November through until March) hasn’t got enough ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from which our bodies can make Vitamin D. We have to rely upon getting enough from the stores we already have in our bodies and from food sources.
So it’s even more important that we make sure we look after our vitamin D stores. Making sure we expose our skin to daylight during the summer months is always the best excuse for getting outside and enjoying it, as we know that it will increase our stores to help see us through the winter months. So if that winter sun peeps through the clouds, it’s the best time to get out for a (probably brisk!) walk!
And although winter sunlight can’t give us the vitamin D we need, it doesn’t mean that we should just sit in the warm and be cosy! Getting outside and making the most of whatever sun we do have will still make us feel better!
But what happens when there’s no sunlight?
You can get some Vitamin D from foods. However, it isn’t easy to get the right amount from food as there are very few foods that naturally contain it. Most foods that contain it only have tiny amounts which are less than the body needs.
Foods that DO contain small amounts of vitamin D are:
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
- Egg yolks
- Fortified cereals
- Fish oils
- It is also usually added to soya and dairy products.
This is where supplements can help
As we go into the darker months, this is where Vitamin D supplements can be very useful – they’re the best possible alternative to Vitamin D through sunlight exposure. As a supplement, I particularly like the Better You Vitamin D spray – I spend much of my time in a darkened treatment room at work so I take it throughout the winter months to help keep myself feeling well.
Supplements also come in tablet and capsule form – it really doesn’t matter what form you take them in or at what time of day, it’s whatever works best for you. Just make sure you don’t take more than the recommended supplement dose of 1000 IU (international units) per day.
Keep that sunny feeling all year round!
We all need to make sure that we chase away any winter blues and keep that sunny feeling going for as long as possible! With a distinct lack of adequate sunlight and more time indoors over the coming months, these top tips are one of the best way of doing it, unless of course you’re jetting off on a winter sun holiday!
As always, if you have any health issues or are on any prescribed medication, speak to your GP or a fully qualified nutritional therapist before taking any new supplements.