During the colder seasons, many are looking to wrap up warm and enjoy cosy evenings inside. But one thing that we don’t see much of lately is the sun - a vital component to produce vitamin D. However, most of us aren’t getting enough of the stuff these days, and it’s no surprise considering the amount of rain we get, that vitamin D deficiency is very common in the UK.
So, why do we need more vitamin D in winter? Let’s find out!
What is Vitamin D?
This is an essential nutrient that helps your body to absorb calcium and phosphate for normal bone growth, strong muscles and a healthy immune system.
The main source of food-based vitamin D is found in fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel, as well as dairy products and other fortified foods (yoghurts, fat spreads, breakfast cereals). Of course, the biggest supply of vitamin D is ultraviolet light from the sun’s UVB rays reacting with chemicals in our skin called 7-DHC to convert them into previtamin D3.
So, why do we need more Vitamin D in winter?
For starters, the cold weather can lead to people staying indoors more and wearing clothes that cover the skin when they are outside, which blocks the UVB rays from the winter sun that are needed for vitamin D synthesis.
Secondly, there is often an increased prevalence of diseases such as the flu and other respiratory infections which can sap your energy and leave you feeling run down. All of these factors together can mean that you are at greater risk of becoming deficient in vitamin D during winter.
The risks of Vitamin D deficiency in winter
There are several problems associated with vitamin D deficiency.
For starters, it leads to a loss of bond density which is fundamental to the development of growing babies and children because it affects their calcium levels. This can cause a condition called rickets (stunted bone growth), deformities and fractures.
In adults, vitamin D deficiency causes fatigue, hair loss and disorders such as osteomalacia (soft bones) and osteoporosis - a disease that slowly develops over time and weakens bones to the point they become fragile and more likely to break.
How can I boost my vitamin D intake?
Being mindful of what you can change in your diet and lifestyle habits to improve your absorption of vitamin D.
Again, foods that are high in vitamin D like the ones listed above can provide you with an optimum amount of the nutrient all year round. Oily fish in particular contain lots of other nutrients essential for good health including omega 3 oils. Fish liver oils are another excellent source which include the nutrient vitamin A too!
Make sure you include plenty of fruit and vegetables that are high in vitamin D in your winter diet too. Plant-based calcium greens like kale and spinach help to boost your vitamin D intake, and mushrooms in particular are great to include in your diet because of their unique ability to absorb sunlight, even after they’ve been harvested.
However, it is important to remember that not everyone will be able to meet their vitamin D needs through diet alone, and supplements may be necessary for some people who are house-bound, pregnant, have darker skin or are lactose intolerant. These are widely available as pills or chewable sweets for children from local supermarkets and pharmacies.
Grab a bottle of vitamins!
Here at The Garden Eatery, we offer a wide range of delicious, raw, unprocessed cold pressed juices for customers across the UK with FREE next day delivery. These are blended with over ½kg of fresh fruit and veg to replenish your body with only the good stuff!