Living / 24 October, 2023 / My Baba
As the Autumn leaves begin to fall and the winter months approach, we start to see our daylight hours dwindle, taking with them our much-needed sunlight and warmth. Our Sun is also nature’s way of providing us with the essential Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is found in two sources, food as Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) in low quantities in some plant and fortified foods and Vitamin D3 (calciferol), available from a few animal sources such as oily fish, liver, dairy and egg yolks. Our main source of Vitamin D is from the sun, as we produce most of our Vitamin D3 in the body following UVB radiation exposure.
When UVB light hits the dermis of the skin, the cells begin a series of steps that also involve the liver and kidneys, which results in the production of the active form of vitamin D3. Unlike other vitamins, which are water soluble and excreted readily from the body, Vitamin D can be stored in the fat cells and used when needed.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that also acts as a pro-hormone, playing vital roles in maintaining health and vitality throughout the year. It is well-known for its role in maintaining bone and musculoskeletal health, however, it has an influence on many other bodily functions due to Vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which are found on most cells of the body. This indicates that Vitamin D influences many other tissues and organ sites in the body such as breast, prostate, colon, brain, and skin, as well as supporting various systems such as immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, and more.
During the winter months, many of us find our resilience, mood, energy, and immunity can be hugely affected by the lack of sunlight, longer nights, wrapped up indoors, dehydration and excess exposure to unnatural light. As we navigate these months, we all want to be in optimal health, especially when we are new parents and have a growing family.
Having adequate levels of Vitamin D is important for parents, babies, and children, especially to reduce the occurrence of various colds and sniffles as well as respiratory infections, which can lead to persistent coughs and disrupted sleep that commonly arise, making everyone miserable.
Around one billion people worldwide have a Vitamin D deficiency, with around 50% of the population with insufficient levels.
During the months of October-April in the northern hemisphere, it is advised to supplement with oral Vitamin D3. How much we need will vary. Some individuals may have built up enough Vitamin D stores and may only require a small maintenance dose, while others may need higher levels due to sub-optimal or very low levels. Factors affecting Vitamin D levels occur due to age, skin pigmentation, lack of summer sun exposure for various reasons, kidney/liver disease, obesity, celiac disease, genetic issues, individuals on medications that are known to interfere with absorption and more.
There are also times when our demand for Vitamin D increases, such as pregnant and lactating women.
We can only determine our current Vitamin D levels by checking them in the blood.
With all the variables that can determine our Vitamin D status, we can see that testing is the only way to get accurate current levels so we can choose the best dose to get us through winter. This can be done from home with a simple-to-use finger-prick blood test.
A general daily maintenance dose can vary from 400iu (for children) up to 1,000iu for an adult and then increased if low or suboptimal levels are discovered. Your GP or healthcare provider can help you with this.
Remember – Test, don’t guess!
Next time you are out walking in the winter sun, peek at your shadow. When you see it is longer than you are tall, this is a good indicator you will not be getting enough UVB rays due to the angle of the sun. This is a good time to top up your Vitamin D as needed from October to April.
Aim to get out in the winter sunshine as much as possible. Being outdoors around midday when the sunlight is stronger can help. Exposing your hands and face where possible. They may be small skin areas, but they can contribute to the production of Vitamin D.
Other ways can include a winter getaway to warmer climates. If that is not possible, then Nutrigold’s little ray of Vitamin D sunshine can come from a bottle!!
Find all your Vitamin D needs met here.