Why you should be taking more Vitamin D in winter?
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Written by Sumayyah Namusabi
From let's say late march (spring) to September, our bodies generate Vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight indoors or outdoors.
However, for the rest of the months (late September to early march) in polar and temperate zones, Sunlight does not have enough UVB (Ultraviolet B) radiation which interacts with a protein called 7-Dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) in our skin and converts it to vitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D.
So, throughout these months, mostly winter, our bodies depend on Vitamin D food sources (this includes fortified foods) and/or dietary supplements.
Continue reading below
Who should be taking vitamin D supplements?
According to the National Institute of health Certain groups of people might need dietary supplements to meet their vitamin D requirements because they are most likely to have vitamin D deficiency.
These groups include;
- Breastfed infants (all babies from birth-date) and children aged 1 to 4 years old.
- People with limited sun exposure (those who stay indoors mostly or live in places where there is less sunshine
- People with darker skin (large amounts of the pigment melanin in the epidermal layer of the skin result in darker skin and decrease the skin’s ability to make vitamin D from sunlight).
- Breast-feeding mothers (for higher vitamin D levels in breast milk).
- Older adults (the skin’s capacity to synthesize vitamin D lessens with age. Also, older adults are less likely to be outdoors for sunlight exposure than young adults).
- Those who are obese or have undergone gastric bypass surgery (large amounts of subcutaneous fat hide away more of the vitamin).
- Those on vegan diets (most food sources are non-vegan).
- Those with conditions that limit fat absorption (Because vitamin D is fat soluble, its absorption depends on the gut’s ability to absorb dietary fat).
Vitamin D supplements may interact with several types of medications. So always speak to your healthcare providers if you are unsure or on other daily medications.
Vitamin D food sources
- Fatty fish – for example, salmon, sardines & herring.
- Cod liver oil
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- fortified foods and drinks – for example, oats and cereals, cow milk and orange juice.
Roles of Vitamin D to our Health
Bone health: We need vitamin D to aid our bodies absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. These minerals are essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Vitamin D deficiency in children, for example, can cause rickets and osteomalacia (bone pain and tenderness) in adults.
Depression: Vitamin D receptors exist on neurons and glia in areas of the brain thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of depression. Studies show that low levels of vitamin D or vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression.
Anti-inflammatory properties: Vitamin D plays a role in reduction of inflammation as well as modulation of such processes as cell growth A meta-analysis showed evidence that vitamin D supplementation may lessen chronic low-grade inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes.
According to the National Heal Service UK, one is advised not to take more than 100μg (100 micrograms is equal to 0.1 milligrams) of vitamin D a day, for it could be harmful. Children aged 1 to 10 shouldn't take more than 50μg a day, while babies under 12 months shouldn't have more than 25μg a day. So, if unsure, always consult a health care provider.
HEALTH | FOOD