Vitamin D and Why You Need More During Winter
WHAT IS VITAMIN D EXACTLY? WHAT DOES IT DO FOR US AND WHY DO WE NEED MORE OF IT DURING WINTER?
During winter, people prefer to stay indoors. Plain and simply, it is cold outside so people prefer and tend to spend more time indoors than they do during the warmer months.
There is a lack of UVB rays during these cold months which makes it difficult for us to absorb natural Vitamin D from the sun. Our natural Vitamin D absorption is further challenged because we are not spending as much time outdoors to begin with. As a result, Vitamin D levels decrease significantly. The lack of Vitamin D could be detrimental to your health.
Vitamin D, which is also known as calciferol, is a fat-soluble vitamin that aids in the absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. There are two forms of Vitamin D. Vitamin D2 which is also known as ergocalciferol is derived from plants and fortified foods and Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol which comes from animal sources.
There are only a few natural food sources although some food products are fortified with vitamin D. It is also available as a dietary supplement which comes in the form of liquid, tablets, or capsules. When the skin absorbs sunlight, it naturally produces vitamin D, which is why it is known as the “vitamin sunshine.”
What are the effects of vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency can result in various health problems. Symptoms of early stages of vitamin D deficiency include muscle pain, difficulty in walking, fatigue, and weakness. More serious signs of deficiency include deep bone fractures accompanied by extreme pain as the bones become thinner and more fragile. This disease is known as osteoporosis. Insufficient amounts of vitamin D also causes muscles to be weak and painful. It has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, prostate, breast, and colon cancers.
Can the sun provide enough vitamin D?
When your skin is exposed to the sun, vitamin D synthesis is activated. Most people think that they can get enough vitamin D this way, however, there are certain conditions that decrease the amount of vitamin D produced by your skin such as clouds, smog, aging, obesity, skin color, and certain medical conditions. The sunscreen that your wear also hinders the production of vitamin D by as much as 95 percent.
Who is at risk?
People who have dark skin living at the higher latitudes have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency as dark skin color prevents the UVB rays from letting the skin produce more vitamin D.
Older adults have difficulty in effectively synthesizing vitamin D, especially those who spend most of their time indoors. The skin is unable to produce vitamin D from the sunlight you get through a window.
Those who wear long robes and headscarves due to cultural or religious practices are also at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
And lastly, people who work during the night and sleep during the day have a lesser chance of getting vitamin D from sunlight.
How do you get vitamin D during the winter season?1. Fatty fish
Fatty fish such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, and trout are rich sources of vitamin D. A palm-size of any of these fish will provide you with 75 percent to 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin D. These types of fish are also excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids which help fight inflammation and promote cardiovascular disease.
Canned light tuna or sardines are a convenient way to add fatty fish to your diet.2. Mushrooms
Mushrooms are not really plants but a kind of fungi that is the only non-animal source of vitamin D. They could be a good choice for vegans as one cup of mushrooms exposed to UV light is a sufficient source of your daily vitamin D requirement.3. Cod liver oi
One tablespoon of cod liver oil is fully loaded with 1300 IU of vitamin D. It is also packed with omega 3 and vitamin A which are essential nutrients in supporting your immune system.4. Vitamin D fortified food
There are a number of plant-based and animal-based food products that are fortified with vitamin D. The most common vitamin D fortified foods include orange juice, milk, yogurt, soy milk, almond milk, orange juice, and cereals.5. Vitamin D supplement
Exposing your face, legs, or back for thirty minutes at least two times a week is enough to supply your body with the amount of vitamin D it needs. However, skin experts do not recommend obtaining vitamin D from unprotected exposure to the UV rays of the sun as it will increase your risk of skin cancer. Since there are only limited food sources of vitamin D, adding vitamin D supplements to your diet is an effective way to ensure that you have a sufficient supply in your body.
What are the other health benefits of vitamin D?1. Strengthens oral health
Calcium which is absorbed by the body through the help of vitamin D supports oral health by decreasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. According to a review published in The Journal of the Tennessee Dental Association, vitamin D is important for health because of its link to bone metabolism. It is also an anti-inflammatory agent and stimulates the synthesis of antimicrobial peptides.2. Helps prevent diabetes
It is not yet conclusive that vitamin D may help prevent type 1 diabetes but a study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that a combination of >1,200 mg calcium and >800 IU vitamin D can decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.3. Helps prevent hypertension
A review published in the journal Current Protein and Peptide Science said that blood pressure may increase even during short term deficiency of vitamin D. More research is being conducted on vitamin D supplementation as a treatment of hypertension.4. Helps in weight loss
The British Journal of Nutrition published a study that obese women who took a daily dose of calcium and vitamin D have suppressed appetite and that it helps shed extra pounds.5. Helps alleviate symptoms of depression
An article in the Journal of Neuropsychology reported that researchers discovered a significant relationship between depression and vitamin D deficiency. Although more studies are needed to support this claim, it could be a more affordable treatment for depression.6. Helps prevent multiple sclerosis
Studies show that vitamin D lowers your chance of developing multiple sclerosis, a disease where your immune system attacks the central nervous system. It can also relieve its symptoms and slows down its growth.7. Helps reduce the risk of certain cancers
The most data available in relation to vitamin D are colorectal, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer cases. Researchers noted that the mortality rate is lower in individuals who live in areas where sun exposure is relatively high. It was also found that vitamin D might decrease the growth of cancer cells.
Why do you need more vitamin D during the winter season?
Vitamin D along with calcium is famous for its significance in maintaining bone health. It is common knowledge that insufficiency of both vitamin D and calcium causes osteoporosis in adults. Osteoporosis is a disease where the bones become thin, weak, and brittle. It also causes rickets in children. Rickets is a condition where bone development is poor resulting in weak bones and bone deformities.
In 1980, scientists came to a breakthrough when they found out that immune cells contain receptors for vitamin D. Another research also found that vitamin D has a vital role in maintaining balance in the gastrointestinal tract. High levels of Vitamin D lowers the risk of various intestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and other gut and lung infections.
Another research study has also discovered that in Japan, inflammatory bowel disease is more prevalent during the winter season than those with low levels of vitamin D. Winter is also the flu season. According to a study involving Japanese schoolchildren, they found that there is a lesser number of children getting sick with the flu when given vitamin D drops. Vitamin D helps make the immune system stronger. It boosts the body’s ability to fight germs.
Vitamin D plays an important role in keeping gut microbes balanced and healthy. It multiplies the number of microbes in your gut that are beneficial for your well-being.
During winter, experts recommend a minimum of 600 IU per day of vitamin D either from food or food supplements to maintain the ideal level of vitamin D. Adults should not consume more than 4000 IU of vitamin D daily to avoid its toxic side effects. Too much vitamin D and calcium in the blood can cause bone pain, kidney stones, and vomiting.
The bottom line: It is important to consume the right amounts of Vitamin D during winter when you are more susceptible to flu, respiratory diseases, and gastrointestinal diseases. Vitamin D helps balance and make the microbes in your gut healthier that will make you strong enough to fight inflammation and infection, not only during winter but throughout the whole year.
For your daily dose of vitamin D, try YEOUTH Vitamin D3 Liquid. A bottle could give you as much as three months supply of vitamin D3 when used and stored as directed.