How to give yourself a Vitamin D boost safely!

Sunshine Vitamin D Boost

Vitamin D plays a vital, key role in your immune system.  A deficiency can lead to fatigue, depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and a weakened immune system.  It’s the weakened immune system that exposes you to the common cold, but also to flu and other infections.  On that note, vitamin D has been shown to decrease the severity of influenza, as well as your chances of catching it.  Vitamin D is also know to be responsible for regulating calcium absorption and, therefore, your bone density. It’s also thought to positively affect many other diseases, including: colon and breast cancer, respiratory disease and type-1 diabetes.

So, where do we get vitamin D from?

Vitamin D is vital for human health and we get it through sunlight exposure and diet.  Our main source is from the sun. In the winter, we spend more time indoors and there is less sunshine when we are outside, so our exposure level drops below what our bodies need.  This decrease is linked to a weakened immune system and therefore one of the theories behind why most people get colds in the winter.  Vitamin D levels also drop in pregnant and breast feeding women, young children and older people, darker-skinned people and those who wear full-body coverings.

We can supplement our decreased production of vitamin D from sunlight with our diet.  Mackerel sardines and fish liver oil are good sources of natural vitamin D. You can get supplements, too.  The only downside of vitamin D in our diet is that it is not as effective.  When you ingest vitamin D, only 60% of it sticks to vitamin D-binding protein; but when you make vitamin D through sunlight hitting your skin, 100% of it binds to the protein.  A study  at Leiden University in Holland has been done on the difference of these two different methods.  Three groups each received either daily supplements of vitamin D, a sunbed session three times a week or nothing.  At the end of the trial, in the group that received nothing, their vitamin D levels had fallen.  In the group that took supplements, their levels had significantly increased. However, the highest increase was in the group that used the sunbeds – responsibly, of course.

What is the best way to increase vitamin D levels in the winter?

In the northern hemisphere, between the months of September and March, there is insufficient sunlight to ensure optimum vitamin D synthesis.  The best way to top up is to enjoy a winter holiday to the southern hemisphere. However, this isn’t a realistic solution.  Therefore, it is essential to maintain a diet high in oily fish, like mackerel and sardines.  This diet can be aided by supplementation as well.