4 Reasons You Should Be Taking Vitamin D In Winter
One of the obvious things we lose in winter is the sun. Daylight hours reduce, influencing everything from your mood to your daily routines and habits as you become more sedentary. In winter, you also make less vitamin D. That's why it's important to learn how diet and supplementation of vitamin D in winter can help you.
Should you supplement with vitamin D in winter?
The primary source of vitamin D3 available to you is from sunlight.
UVB rays from the sun interact with a cholesterol compound within your skin cells. It then undergoes a chemical reaction which converts it into vitamin D3. So, in the summer, you are exposed to a lot of vitamin D (assuming you get out in the sun!).
In winter, however, the sunlight is not strong enough to generate enough vitamin D3, so you may need to consider supplementing with vitamin D in winter or increasing your intake of vitamin D rich foods to support your health.
Why is vitamin D3 important?
There are several reasons why vitamin D is essential to good health:
1. Vitamin D3 is involved in how you absorb calcium, which is crucial for bone mineralisation and essential for healthy teeth and bones.
2. Vitamin D3 helps to modulate (balance) your immune system. That means it helps to keep your immune cell function balanced and helps to enhance how the body defends itself against infections, ‘bugs’ and ills and chills.
3. Regarding mood, vitamin D3 has been researched to show it may also help with low mood and problems with concentration.
4. Vitamin D3 is essential for muscle strength, coordination (and balance) which reduces the risk of falls and injuries, especially for the elderly.
Natural sources of vitamin D
The optimum blood serum level for vitamin D in NZ is 50-100 nmol/L. You can find this out with a blood test.
There are no real symptoms for vitamin D deficiency as most people are asymptomatic. This makes it tricky to determine if you need extra vitamin D or not, but it is recommended for those living in the southern part of New Zealand between May and August. Seasonal support may be all you need.
You may consider supplementation if you work inside all day and are not exposed to sunlight (even in the summer months). People with a higher melanin content within their skin may also have lower vitamin D levels and need supplementation.
The Best Practice Journal recommends supplementation for people if they are:
- ‘Unable to increase their exposure to direct sunlight
- Unable to modify their diet to include more vitamin D-rich foods
They also note that blood serum testing is not always required before starting supplementation as testing is expensive and likely to return a sub-optimal vitamin D level. In comparison, supplementation is inexpensive and highly unlikely to cause toxicity when used at recommended levels.’
What makes a good vitamin D supplement?
If you're choosing to supplement with vitamin D in winter, there are some great liquid sprays on the market that the whole family can take. Just be aware that there is a maximum dose as vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin that can build up in the body – so stick to the recommended dose over the winter months.
The maximum dose for an adult is between 1000 - 4000 iu daily. We prefer liquids as they are easier to absorb and assimilate into your day as they are just a few drops or sprays a day. Then when it gets warmer – enjoy the sunlight again.