I hope you’re having a good start to your week and the sun is shining wherever you may be. After a seriously gloomy, wet and cold week my mood was instantly boosted with a serious dose of sunshine over the weekend. This got me thinking about the role vitamin D plays not only on our health but also our mood too. Today I thought I’d share with you a little bit about vitamin D, what it is, how much you need, what it does and where to find it. If the sun’s currently shining where you are grab your laptop, a cuppa and go read this while you soak up some rays.
What is it?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which technically acts as a hormone once activated. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin this means we are able to store it however, unlike other fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin D deficiency is far more common than you may think.
Why is it important?
The main role vitamin D plays is in bone health regulating calcium absorption from the gut forming strong bones, helping reduce excessive bone breakdown and osteoporosis.
Heard of the winter blues? Turns out they actually can be a real thing… vitamin D plays an important role on our mood and low levels have been linked to depression, its hypothesised sunlight & vitamin D may help increase serotonin levels and therefore help boost one’s mood.
Research suggests vitamin D may also help play a protective role in preventing type 2 diabetes by helping reduce insulin resistance. The research isn’t conclusive just yet but definitely something to think about.
Constantly feeling run down and always getting sick? Vitamin C might not be the only thing you need. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to poor immune function.
So bone health, immune function, mood and diabetes vitamin D is one crucial vitamin we all should be trying to get enough of.
Where to find it?
There are two main types of vitamin D found in the diet, vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. You can find vitamin D2 in mushrooms and vitamin D3 in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, egg yolks and in some fortified food products such as milk & dairy. However, fun fact your body actually produces the majority of your vitamin D, sun exposure (UVB rays) converts cholesterol in your skin into vitamin D. Our bodies are pretty neat like that huh?
Am I getting enough?
If you’re dark skinned, overweight, live in the south island or spend minimal time outside you’re at risk of getting suboptimal winter vitamin D levels. Unfortunately, unlike other vitamins getting enough vitamin D from our diets can be pretty hard to achieve however, it’s lucky we’ve got the sun to thank for helping us boost our vitamin D and remain feeling healthy! In winter maintaining our vitamin D can be a pretty hard thing to achieve especially if you work indoors and rarely venture outside to soak up some rays. Even if you do venture outside you need to be doing this during peak sunlight hours i.e. your lunch break for a decent thirty minutes to an hour to get enough UVB exposure. Harder said than done especially when it’s pouring with rain…
So, what can you do? First thing’s first regularly try and include sources of dietary vitamin D in your diet and if you can try and get outside to soak up some rays. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin it’s unwise to supplement without knowing your levels (although vitamin D toxicity is extremely rare). If you think you could be running low have a chat to your doctor and asked to get tested -explain you’re not just concerned about bone health but hormones and your mood!
What to look for in a supplement?
Vitamin D3 is what you’re after. Most brands are 1000 IU, if you can try and find one paired with vitamin K to help boost your absorption this is a bonus too.
Either that or you could just book a mid-winter tropical getaway right?
I hope this post was helpful and you’ve managed to soak up some rays, even if it was only for a few minutes, the sun & being warm is bound to perk you up a little bit.