Learn what to do when you’re lacking in the sunshine vitamin
As the days grow darker and the cold creeps in, our levels of the sunshine vitamin tend to drop. It’s therefore important to ensure that we’re getting the right amount of vitamin D, especially during the winter months.
The majority of our vitamin D is made when our skin is exposed to sunlight, which means we cannot increase our intake as easily through our diet. Those with reduced exposure to the sun are therefore at a greater risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. In fact, one study shows that nurses who worked night shifts for over 20 years had more incidences of wrist and hip fractures over an 8-year follow-up period. The research suggests that their lack of sun exposure can be linked to a reduction in bone and muscle strength due to a lack of vitamin D.
This nutrient is essential for helping to regulate calcium and phosphate levels in the body, which plays a key role in maintaining healthy bones, muscles and teeth. It’s also crucial for the healthy functioning of our immune, cardiovascular and cognitive system. Therefore, without vitamin D we can be affected in numerous ways; ranging from the occurrence of ‘surface’ symptoms including muscle weakness, fatigue, and frequent coughs and colds, to ‘concealed’ symptoms such as osteoporosis and bone deformities.
If you are concerned about having low levels of this vitamin, then it’s always a good idea to speak to your local GP. There are also ways you can adjust your lifestyle and diet to combat vitamin D deficiency:
1 Try to spend time outside in the sun for 5-30 minutes a day.
2 Eat foods that contain naturally-occuring vitamin D, such as yoghurt, cheese, egg yolk, fish and antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables.
3 Take cod liver oil or vitamin D supplements.
Advice taken from nutritionist Kim Pearson in association with Better You