It’s that time of year again when we should be thinking about whether we need to assist nature in protecting our body and sustaining our health against the exigencies of the winter. In this context it is important to note that over recent years the medical world has become more aware of the prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency and the risks issuing from this. In the UK during the winter it is known that 30- 40% of all age groups in the population are classified as Vitamin D deficient.
Why is Vitamin D important?
Vitamin D, also widely known as nature’s version of Prozac and the sunshine Vitamin, helps regulate the amounts of calcium and phosphate in the body; these are needed to keep bones, muscles and teeth healthy. Maintaining the level of Vitamin D in the body therefore helps to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, rickets, muscle weakness and cardio vascular disease. It also plays an important role in our immune health and mental health. Very importantly, it is not just a vitamin but also has hormone-like qualities which play a role in switching genes on and off to further support our health.
What causes a deficiency?
Although the body is able to create vitamin D, there are many reasons why a deficiency can occur.
- People with dark skin need more exposure to sunlight for vitamin D production
- Indoor lifestyle means that we are getting less exposure to light than we need.
- Poor absorption of vitamin D in the intestines due to IBS and other digestive issues can also play a role in leading to deficiency.
Other sources of Vitamin D
Although sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, we can also get this nutrient through certain foods such as:
- Oily fish
What to look out for?
If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, you should consider contacting your GP or, alternatively, speaking to Anastasia about organising a blood test to determine the level of Vitamin D in your body.
- Painful joints
- Frequent colds and flu
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain.
Anastasia’s Nutritional Advice
Optimal levels of vitamin D are between 50 to 70 nanograms per millilitre so make sure you get tested and, if necessary, consider taking vitamin supplements throughout winter to keep you topped up. Although we can store vitamin D for some time in our liver, it breaks down fairly quickly, which is why it is a good idea to be vigilant of becoming deficient. Recent studies show that taking Vitamin D supplements can
- Halve the risk of severe asthma attacks
- Reduce the risk of contracting the influenza A infection by 40%.
- Vitamin D has been linked to helping to relieve depression and anxiety although the relationship is still being studied
On a brighter note, it is a really good excuse for booking a winter sunshine getaway!