Why is Vitamin D important during winter?
With the days getting longer and the sun finally peeping through the clouds, we start to remember one of the most important vitamins that our body needs to stay healthy, especially during winter. Yes, we're talking about Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D plays an essential role in the function and maintenance of the human body. It helps our body absorb calcium, which is important for the maintenance of healthy bones and it ensures that our immune, muscle and nervous systems all function properly.
However, there are factors that can make it hard for you to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure alone. These factors include:
- The time of day.
- Your skin colour - The darker your skin colour the more melanin you have. Melanin is a compound that protects against skin damage.
- How much skin you expose to sunlight.
- The further away you live from the equator.
So, what can you do to help boost your vitamin D levels during winter?
Our body produces vitamin D naturally when our skin is exposed to sunlight. However, during winter we spend more time indoors to keep warm which in turn exposes us to a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. So, what's the best way to boost our vitamin D levels?
- Try and get up to 15 minutes of direct sunlight 3 times a week. However for Australians, it is important to ensure that we find the right balance of sun exposure, as too much exposure has proven to significantly increase the risk of skin cancer (including melanoma - the most dangerous form of skin cancer).
- Sit and read a book on the balcony instead of on the couch
- Take a quick walk on your lunch or morning/afternoon breaks.
- Spend time outdoors in the middle of the day. You could eat your lunch outside on a park bench on sunny days or do some gardening.
- Eating foods rich in vitamin D can help, but is less effective. Examples of foods that contain small amounts of Vitamin D include: Eggs (particularly egg yolk), tuna, mackerel and other fatty fish regularly , Full fat dairy (organic natural yoghurt) and Mushrooms (tip: leave your mushies out in the sun for 15 minutes before cooking and they absorb more Vitamin D).
Did you know?
Over the past few decades, breast cancer has been ranked second in the leading causes of death among 25 to 44 year old females; it was the leading cause of death among 45 to 64 year old females and ranked third among females aged 65 to 74. Studies have shown that diet has a role in lowering the risk of breast cancer. Diets rich in vitamin D and fibrous foods have shown to have defensive action against breast cancer.
Do you need help or advice?
Please note, if your blood Vitamin D is low, it is recommended to use a good quality supplement. Our Naturopaths have experience assessing Vitamin D status and our Clincal Nutritionist will be able to advise you on diets rich in vitamin D and fibrous foods - so why not contact us and book a consult with one of them now.