How to get your vitamin D in the colder months

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D is beneficial to us in many ways — from increasing our happiness levels to improving our dental health. From April to the end of September, most people can get their recommended daily vitamin D intake from direct sunlight. However, as the days become shorter between October and the March, we often don’t get as much of the vitamin as we should. So, what can you do to keep your intake of vitamin D up? Together with Dobies, retailers of autumn flowering bulbs, we provide some suggestions.

The value of vitamin D

A sufficient intake of vitamin D is important for our health. Not only does it provide us with its own benefits, it enhances absorption of other vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphate.

There are some people who are more prone to vitamin D deficiency than others. For example, people with darker skin tend to have lower levels of the vitamin as their skin pigmentation acts as a natural sunscreen. People over the age of 50 also produce less vitamin D as their older skin is less able to generate it. Finally, overweight and obese people are more susceptible to deficiency as vitamin D is a fat soluble which means that it becomes collected in the body fat and does not benefit the body.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, consider upping your vitamin D intake as it was found to reduce new fat cells in the body and fat accumulation. It has also been linked to better skin, higher brain function, bone health and dental improvements.

The vitamin has been found to fight off depression too as it is associated with higher serotonin levels, this is often why we feel happier in the sunshine. When it comes to the dreaded flu, vitamin D was found to reduce your risk of the illness by 50%.

Deficiencies of the vitamin have been linked to osteoporosis, rickets, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Currently, it is recommended that adults should take no more than 25 micrograms per day, but some experts claim that this is too low. Too much vitamin D however, can cause a build-up of calcium in your blood which can lead to poor appetite, nausea and vomiting.

Dietary changes

There are some adjustments that you can make to your diet to improve your vitamin D intake.

Oily fish is high in vitamin D and is a good way to incorporate more of it in your diet. Examples of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and tuna. These can easily be included in your daily meal at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tinned tuna is great for salads and pasta dishes, and a glazed salmon fillet is the perfect accompaniment to vegetables for an evening meal. Including red meat such as pork, lamb and beef into your diet can also help to increase your vitamin D intake.

For vegetarians, not eating fish and meat can hinder their vitamin D intake. Egg yolks are an alternative way to gain vitamin D, and these are easy to incorporate into a breakfast or lunch time meal. For vegans, mushrooms and almond milk are both good sources of vitamin D.

Maintaining a balanced diet is key, don’t eat red meat every day to get your vitamin D intake but alternate it with other recommended foods instead.

What else can you do?

As well as making changes to your diet, there are other things that you can do to up your vitamin D intake. In supermarkets and pharmacies there are supplements available that you can take. Multi-vitamin tablets are a good way to keep all of your vitamin levels on track.

As we mentioned, sunshine is a great source of vitamin D for the body. Experts advise that exposing your forearms outdoors for 20-25 minutes each day can boost levels. Try to get out of the office at lunchtime and absorb some natural light! Or how about some gardening at the weekend. Despite the colder weather, there is still plenty to do in the garden — exposing you to some sunlight.

Fortified foods are available in some supermarkets too. Check labels and dietary information to find out food have added vitamin D.

We’re very proud to bring you this feature in association with Dobies. For more tips and advice, please pay a visit to our lifestyle page.


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