How are you? No, really, I mean it – I’d love to know how you’re doing. How’s your body feeling? How’s your health? Are you happy? Drop me an email and let me know how you’re really feeling.
The chances are, as the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, you might be feeling a bit low. It’s not just you! There’s a common underlying cause for this “dull” feeling throughout winter, and it’s so simple to fix – and costs less than £10! It’s the thing the doctors won’t tell you about feeling low during winter.
It’s all down to one simple nutrient: Vitamin D. We synthesise the majority of our vitamin D3 (from now on referred to as vitamin D) from bright sunlight, needing just 20 minutes of bright sunlight every day to get our full dose. The problem is that every year around November through to April (in the United Kingdom), the sun’s rays penetrate the atmosphere at a greater angle, meaning that they’re not quite as warm and powerful as they were during summer. What this means is that even if you were dedicated enough to sit outside with your arms and legs bare all through winter, AND if we had bright sunlight every day (lol), your body would STILL struggle to synthesise enough vitamin D, because of the weakness of the sun’s rays.
What are the signs of vitamin D deficiency?
So… what are the signs of vitamin D deficiency? Lethargy, feeling “low” or “blue”, tiredness and fatigue, frequent colds and sniffles, aching bones, the list goes on. The truth is that vitamin D is such an essential nutrient, and facilitates so many chemical pathways in the body, that a deficiency leads to a wide array of hard-to-pin-down symptoms. You can request a vitamin D blood test from your GP. Some groups of people will be more prone to vitamin D deficiency. According to the NHS Choices Website,
“Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by eating a healthy balanced diet and by getting some summer sun. Groups of the population at risk of not getting enough vitamin D are:
– all pregnant and breastfeeding women
– babies and young children under the age of five
– older people aged 65 years and over
– people who are not exposed to much sun, such as people who cover up their skin when outdoors, or those who are housebound or confined indoors for long periods
– people who have darker skin such as people of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian origin”
Um. Is it just me, or does “people who are not exposed to much sun, such as people who cover up their skin when outdoors, or those who are housebound or confined indoors for long periods” describe a large majority of the UK working population?
Can’t I get vitamin D from my diet?
It is true that some foods (eggs and oily fish) contain some vitamin D, but to put it into perspective, you would need to consume around 1 kilogram of salmon per day to get 500 International Units (Ius) of vitamin D. And 500IU/day wouldn’t really cut it, even if you were prepared to contribute to over-fishing and eat a kilo of salmon every day.
How much vitamin D do I need?
The NHS recommends that people in the high risk groups above (read, everyone who doesn’t go on long sunny holidays during winter) should take between 100 – 400 IU/day. Sadly, this recommendation is way behind recent research, which suggests that 5000IU is a more realistic dose. When exposed to bright summer sun for 20-30 minutes, your body can produce up to 10,000IU of vitamin D. So why, oh why, is the NHS still recommending 400IU/day? I honestly don’t know. Research has shown that daily doses of 10,000IU have been used for up to 5 months with no aderse effects. Studies suggest that only when more than 10,000IU of vitamin D is ingested daily for several months to several years will vitamin D intoxication occur.
What does this mean to you? Simple: you’re not getting vitamin D from the sun during winter; unless you’re eating a mammoth amount of wild atlantic salmon, you’re not getting a significant amount of vitamin D from your diet. Therefore, the recommendation is to take it in the form of a supplement. And the great news is that vitamin D is one of the cheapest vitamin supplements available!
Which supplement is the best?
The supplement that I take is Nutri’s D3 Drops, a high quality vitamin D supplement. Each drop contains 1,000IU, so throughout winter I take between 5 – 10 drops per day. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it doesn’t taste bad. It is derived from sheep’s wool, so if you’re vegetarian or vegan I’d suggest booking several holidays to South Africa instead.
It retails at £9.98 per 28ml bottle, which is a steal compared to certain health food shops, (whose initials are B & H, not necessarily in that order) plus £2.95 postage if delivered.
Order yours now:
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Got any questions about vitamin D? Leave your comments or questions below. Thanks for reading!