The clocks have gone back – winter is officially here.

Sadly we now have less sunshine each day and therefore less chance to top up our Vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D is synthesised by the body in response to sun exposure. Research suggests that the majority of people are chronically deficient in vitamin D because they rarely get full body exposure to the sunlight. Obviously in the depths of winter we know that sunbathing isn’t really an option but instead get outside go for a walk and get at least 30mins of exposure to the sun. You’ll get the added benefit of boosting your step count for the day. A win, win.

SUNLIGHT EXPOSURE = INCREASED VITAMIN D = IMPROVE HEALTH

Sunlight exposure should be your primary intake of Vitamin D. Diet and supplementation secondary.

Salmon, tuna and sardines are good sources of vitamin D so try to include these in your diet, especially throughout the winter months. Need some inspiration? Check out Rachels recipes.

Choosing a good Vitamin D supplement from a reputable supplier is important. We recommend Nutri Advanced Vitamin D3 drops. Each bottle contains 900 drops (2p per drop) and each drop contains 1000 iu. One drop (1000 iu) per day is recommended by the endocrine society, however some studies have suggested that doses of 1000-4000 iu per day are needed to maintain optimal levels, especially in chronically deficient adults.

There are numerous health benefits to maintaining optimal vitamin D levels. I have listed just 4 below, which stand out, especially whilst we are living with Covid 19.

Calcium absorption

The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D, one can’t form enough of the hormone calcitriol (known as the “active vitamin D”). This in turn leads to insufficient calcium absorption from the diet.

Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life. In addition to building bones and keeping them healthy, calcium enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat. About 99% of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones and teeth.

Cardiovascular Health

Current evidence suggests a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and risk factors with lower vitamin D levels. Furthermore, low vitamin D is associated with hypertension and higher cardiovascular and all-cause mortality

Kheiri, B., Abdalla, A., Osman, M. et al. Vitamin D deficiency and risk of cardiovascular diseases: a narrative review. Clin Hypertens 24, 9 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40885-018-0094-4

Treatment of depression

Ganji, et al (2010) conducted a large population study on 7079 US residents aged 15-39 and conclude that the likelihood of having depression in persons with vitamin D deficiency is significantly higher compared to those with vitamin D sufficiency. They suggest that early diagnosis and intervention are paramount because Vitamin D deficiency and depression has serious negative consequences on health.

Ganji, V., Milone, C., Cody, M.M. et al. Serum vitamin D concentrations are related to depression in young adult US population: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Int Arch Med 3, 29 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1186/1755-7682-3-29

Prevention of infections

Vitamin D may play a role in the prevention of infections. It can be used in the treatment of viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Several conditions such as tuberculosis, psoriasis, eczema, Crohn’s disease, chest infections, wound infections, influenza, urinary tract infections, eye infections may benefit from adequate vitamin D levels.

Schwarzenberg, G. A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. 2011. Molecular nutrition and food research. 55(1), 96-108