We all know how important vitamins are for promoting health and steering clear of disease, but unlike any other vitamin, your requirements for Vit D change with the seasons.
Read on to find out why that is, and what you can do to make sure you’re getting enough year-round to be the best version of yourself.
Tell me More!
Now you know you need more Vitamin D during the colder seasons, you’re probably wondering why it’s so important? Read on!
Vitamin D is an umbrella term for a group of fat-soluble vitamins. These vitamins are super important for regulating levels of phosphorus and calcium in the body – and so are vital for bone, teeth and muscle health. So, it makes sense that not getting enough Vit D can cause problems with these.
The Problem with D-ficiency
Severe Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults – two nasty and chronic bone conditions. Long-term low levels of Vitamin D have also been linked with muscle weakness, fatigue, depression and even early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency affects almost 20% of all adults in the UK in autumn and winter.
But when it comes to the sunshine Vitamin, always look on the bright side! You don’t have to worry the consequences of deficiency if you’re doing everything you can to get enough.
If the thought of making your own Vitamin D from sunlight made you rays your eyebrows then bear with us! Your body truly is a remarkable machine and humans are just one of many animals that can synthesise Vit D from the sun’s UVB rays.
But unlike most animals, humans have skin that’s free from the feathers and fur (usually!) which can stop sunlight from being absorbed. Our skin produces a precursor for Vitamin D and when the sun’s UVB rays beam down on bare skin it creates a reaction. This pre-vitamin D is then converted into Vitamin D3 by the liver and kidneys.
This is the active form of the vitamins, which goes on to works its magic throughout the body. Not only does it work hard to maintain bone and muscle health, but it also protects cells to prevent disease.
A Troublesome Forecast
It’s November, it’s raining – a lot! – and it feels like you haven’t seen the sun since your last trip abroad. We hear you… “Great, so I can meet my requirements by sailing my yacht far away and lying in the sun all day? If only!”
And that’s the problem, whilst we’re fully equipped to synthesise our own Vitamin D from sunlight alone, there are a number of things which can quite literally throw shade on the situation. No matter the time of year, each of these factors effects our ability to get enough Vit D from sunlight alone…
- Clothing Cover Ups – Whether it’s because we’re cold, modest or all in the name of fashion – a layer of fabric between you and the sun is all it takes to stop UVB rays getting absorbed by the skin.
- Skin Tone – Those with darker skin absorb less Vitamin D from the sun. That’s because something called ‘melanin’ – a pigment found in dark skin – doesn’t absorb UV radiation as well.
- Being Indoors – Even if you’re a lover of the great outdoors, chances are the vast majority of your day is spent within four walls. Whether that’s working, raising a family, cooking, cleaning or sleeping – the sun can’t reach you when you’re inside.
- Location – The latitude of your hometown greatly affects how much sunlight you’re exposed to. Those living above 37 degrees North or below 37 degrees South of the equator make very little, if any, Vitamin D from sunlight.
- Winter Woes – Even if the sun is shining, from September through to March the sun is so low in the sky that the atmosphere blocks UVB rays from reaching people.
- Beware the Beams – Getting enough sun is great for boosting Vitamin D levels, but too much puts us at risk of sunburn, eye damage, ageing of the skin and even skin cancer.
Can’t I just eat more sources of Vitamin D during Winter?
The good thing about trying to get enough of any vitamin is that it encourages you to eat a healthier, more varied diet.
Good sources of Vitamin D include seafood, oily fish, egg yolks, mushrooms and fortified products.
But compared with other vitamins, it’s harder to get enough Vit D from diet alone. Ideally, a combination of soaking up the sun and devouring a decent diet will give you all you need. But for most of us, it’s hard to keep this up year-round.
What about Supplements?
So, getting enough sun and eating a balanced diet are good ways to boost your Vit D intake, however – you guessed it! – during autumn and winter when UVB rays are low, it’s usually a good idea to take a supplement. Make sure your Vitamin D supplements are D3 – the active form which works its magic in the body.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommends a vitamin D reference nutrient intake (RNI) of 400 international units (10ug) daily for all adults in the UK, including those at increased risk of deficiency. This is a good dose to aim for when buying supplements.
Sunny Side Up
At Hunter and Gather we use only organic, free range egg yolks to make our Avocado Oil Mayonnaise. They come from St Ewe – where the hens have plenty of space to roam free, scratch and stroll at their own leisure!
Not only does this mean they’re RSPCA and Vegetarian Society approved, but Egg yolk is a great source of Vitamin D and yolk from pastured eggs contains up to four times more Vit D than those from caged hens. They’ve also been shown to contain more Vitamin A, Omega-3 fatty acids and less cholesterol – eggcellent! What’s more, because Vit D is fat soluble, all of the nutrient-packed healthy fats from our avocados help to absorb it into the bloodstream.
Our new 630g jar of Avocado Mayonnaise contains the yolks of four St Ewe’s eggs. Not only does this give our mayo a silky, D-licious taste, but the yolks are also packed with healthy fats, vitamins and minerals – now that’s what I’m yolking about!
All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.
It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.