As the vibrant hues of summer fade and the days grow shorter, many of us unwittingly embark on a journey towards vitamin D deficiency.
The vital "sunshine vitamin," as it's commonly known, is a cornerstone of our overall health and well-being. But during the darker months, from the end of September until March, maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D becomes increasingly challenging.
In this article, we will explore why vitamin D is so crucial, the symptoms of its deficiency, its connection to various health conditions, and why supplementation is often the best course of action, especially for vegans.
The Sunshine Vitamin's Significance:
Vitamin D plays a multifaceted role in our health. It is essential for:
1. Immune Health: Vitamin D is known to bolster the immune system, helping us fend off infections and illnesses.
2. Bone Health: It aids in calcium absorption, ensuring our bones remain strong and healthy.
3. Mood Regulation: Some studies suggest a link between low vitamin D levels and mood disorders like seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
4. Energy levels: Vitamin D deficiency often causes people to experience extreme fatigue.
Common Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency:
Spotting the signs of low vitamin D can be crucial in preventing potential health issues. Some common symptoms include:
1. Fatigue: Feeling constantly tired or sluggish.
2. Muscle Weakness: Experiencing muscle pain or weakness, even without strenuous activity.
3. Mood Changes: Feeling down or experiencing mood swings.
4. Frequent Infections: Falling ill more often than usual.
Vitamin D and Health Conditions:
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a range of health conditions, including:
1. Osteoporosis: Inadequate vitamin D can lead to weakened bones, increasing the risk of fractures.
2. Certain Cancers: Studies suggest that low vitamin D levels may be associated with an elevated risk of certain cancers, including breast, prostate, and colon cancer.
3. Autoimmune Disorders: Some autoimmune conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, have been linked to insufficient vitamin D.
4. Heart Health: Low vitamin D levels may contribute to cardiovascular issues.
Why Food Alone Isn't Enough:
While it's possible to obtain vitamin D from dietary sources like fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products, getting the optimal amount solely through food can be challenging. Moreover, if you follow a vegan diet, your options become even more limited, as plant-based sources are scarce.
Supplementation for Winter Wellness:
To ensure you maintain adequate vitamin D levels during the colder months, experts recommend supplementing with at least 2000 IU (international units) per day. This proactive approach can help you avoid deficiency-related symptoms and reduce the risk of associated health conditions.
For people with very low Vitamin D levels, often they must have a therapeutic, very high dose or even injections for a short period of time. This should be only undertaken under the guidance of an experienced practitioner.
For vegans, vitamin D supplementation is especially vital due to the scarcity of plant-based sources.
While some fortified foods like plant-based milk and breakfast cereals may contain vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), it's often recommended to choose vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplements, as they are more effective in raising blood levels of vitamin D.
Preparing for Winter: Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked
As the leaves change colour and the days grow shorter, it's the perfect time to start thinking about your winter wellness strategy. One crucial aspect of this strategy is ensuring your vitamin D levels are in the optimal range.
Why Check Your Vitamin D Levels?
Knowing your vitamin D levels before winter sets in is a smart move. It allows you to tailor your supplementation to your specific needs, ensuring you're getting the right dosage for your body.
How to Get Checked:
You have two convenient options to get your vitamin D levels checked:
The Power of Knowing:
Understanding your vitamin D status is not only about preventing deficiency but also about achieving optimal health. With the right information, you can take proactive steps to fortify your immune system and overall well-being.
Explore my Autumn Immunity Boosting Plan:
For those seeking a deeper understanding of their immune system and looking to fend off those pesky winter illnesses, I'm excited to introduce my Autumn Immunity Boosting Plan. This comprehensive program includes assessments of all the key markers for a healthy immune system, including:
This Plan goes beyond mere testing; it also offers:
Ready to Take Action?
To learn more about our Autumn Immunity Boosting Plan, simply visit this link.
This program is your opportunity to equip yourself with the knowledge and support necessary to face winter head-on, all while enjoying the peace of mind that comes from knowing your immune system is primed and ready for the season.
Don't leave your health to chance this winter—take proactive steps to fortify your defences and embrace the season with confidence.
In the meantime, as the sun retreats and winter's chill settles in, don't let vitamin D deficiency cast a shadow over your well-being. Take charge of your health by considering vitamin D supplementation, and ensure you're equipped to face the season with vitality and resilience. Your body will thank you with strong bones, a robust immune system, and a brighter outlook on life.
As the vibrant colours of summer give way to the golden hues of early Autumn, let`s look through the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and naturopathic wisdom to explore the fascinating concept of "Spleen Energy" during the Indian Summer, a pivotal season in TCM's Five Element Theory.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the concept of "Spleen energy" is closely associated with the Earth element and plays a significant role in maintaining overall health and balance in the body.
It's important to understand that TCM views the body in terms of energy flow and balance, rather than Western anatomical or physiological terms. The Spleen, in TCM, doesn't correspond directly to the anatomical spleen but encompasses a broader set of functions.
In the context of early autumn, which is often referred to as "Indian Summer" in some regions, there is a unique relationship between the changing seasons and the Spleen energy. Here's a naturopathic explanation of this concept:
Spleen/ Earth energy food
To nurture and support Spleen energy during the early autumn or Indian Summer season, it's essential to align your diet with the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and naturopathy.
This season calls for a shift away from raw and cold foods, as these can potentially weaken the Spleen's digestive function. Instead, focus on embracing warmth and nourishment through hearty, cooked meals.
Opt for comforting stews, casseroles, and soul-warming soups that are not only delicious but also easier on your digestion. Mashed and pureed foods offer gentle textures that promote ease of digestion and assimilation.
Root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and swedes, are excellent choices during this season. These earthy, grounding vegetables are packed with nutrients and fibre while providing the warmth your body craves. Squashes, with their natural sweetness and rich texture, also make for a perfect addition to your autumn meals.
Incorporating these foods into your diet can help harmonise your Spleen energy and support overall well-being. Remember, in naturopathic terms, the key is to nourish your body with foods that offer comfort, warmth, and ease of digestion during the transition from late summer to early autumn.
During the early autumn or Indian Summer season, not only is the Spleen energy significant in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and naturopathic practices, but the pancreas also plays a crucial role.
The pancreas is closely linked to the regulation of blood sugar levels, making it essential to be mindful of its function during this time. It's important to be aware of potential blood sugar spikes and crashes, which can disrupt overall balance and energy.
To support both the Spleen and pancreas during this season, it's advisable to steer clear of excessive sweets and sugary foods. These can lead to rapid increases in blood sugar levels, followed by energy crashes.
Instead, opt for a balanced approach by incorporating protein-rich foods into your meals. Proteins provide a steady release of energy and help stabilise blood sugar levels. Consider lean sources of protein such as poultry, fish, tofu, beans, and legumes.
Combining proteins with the warming and nourishing qualities of the recommended cooked vegetables and whole grains can help maintain a steady and balanced energy level throughout the day.
By keeping your diet balanced with a focus on nourishing, warming foods and protein sources, you can effectively support both your Spleen and pancreas, ensuring a harmonious transition into the early autumn season while maintaining stable blood sugar levels.
Balancing the Earth element and the Spleen energy is seen as vital for maintaining physical and emotional well-being during this season. So get those slow cookers out and think blankets, cosy evenings and beautiful walks in nature.
You can listen more about this here.
It`s late September and my house is smelling all lovely and fruity. That`s because I have a load of Rosehips in my dehydrator that I have picked this morning in-between the showers we are having this week, here in England. Honestly, it`s hard to know whether we`re coming or going this week. One minute we have blue skies, the next torrential rain. I`m sure it is timed everyday for 3pm when it`s time to go and pick up little B from School. Never mind...
Well, whilst the sun was shining I managed to get outside with my basket and snips and get a great haul of Rosehips. They are starting to get on the squishy side so if you are thinking about getting some, get them now!
When you pick your rosehips, you want the glossy red ones that are firm with a slight squeeze to them. They will go dull and lose their shine as they go past their best. They will mush when you squeeze them and go a brownish colour. Only get the ruby red ones.
The old advice was to wait until the first frost had sweetened them, but with our current warmer climate, they will be far too squishy if you wait for a frost in the UK. You can encourage them to sweeten by putting them in your freezer for a day or two at least before using them once defrosted.
Rosehips are so good for you in so many ways. Herbally, they are cooling, which is great if you have a fever but also have a calming influence. This means they are great for angry things like skin issues such as eczema or hives.
They are astringent, Stomach strengthening, great for diarrhoea, good for warding off coughs and colds (and also getting rid of them quicker), asthma, heart palpitations, immune system strengthening, mood lifting and nervous system supporting. They have great quantities of vitamin C in them which makes them an excellent choice to use as a supplement if you have any joint problems, cartilage issues (like Ehlers Danlos), osteoporosis and painful joints. This is because the pathway to create great functioning cartilage relies on having the right amount of vitamin C.
If you struggle with your immune system or are having immunomodulatory medicine or a condition where your immune system is compromised then you should explore them further also.
Rosehips have such an amazing amount of vitamin C within them that the UK Ministry of Defense looked into them during the war as a substitute for oranges (which were unavailable at the time)
It was found that the humble rosehip had 20 times more vitamin C than oranges!
The Ministry of Defense went on to get communities to gather rosehips across the UK and made rosehip syrup to be distributed across the nation to mothers and young children. People were taught how to make it and it was widely available to buy in chemists right up until the 1970s.
The Rosehip is grown on the wild rose bushes that you see in hedgerows. It is more commonly known as the Dog Rose. It was thought that the name "Dog Rose" pertained to the plants ability to heal the sufferer from the bite of a mad dog! It`s more commonly accepted that "Dog" was actually "Dag" and meant "dagger" due to the thorns and the serrated edges of the leaves.
It`s thorns can be quite brutal, so do be careful when you are foraging for the fruits. On the plus side, any medicinal plant with thorns is thought to be super - protective to the picker, both physically and mentally.
The rosehip is also supportive to our mood. It contains not only Vitamin C, but manganese, selenium, Vitamin K and B vitamins. All needed for brain health. Supplementing with rosehips can give you extra support with anxiety and depression by gently nurturing our nervous system.
Rosehips are pretty renowned for their ability to give us beautiful skin. Not only is rosehip oil extremely nourishing but the high vitamin C content is rejuvenating for the collagen in the skin. Rosehips are packed with antioxidants so will also go about removing all those free-radicals that can accumulate in our skin. They will also set about removing them all the way through your body if you consume them.
I love looking into the folklore and energetics of plants, I find it fascinating and usually the message that is being told can be linked to scientific studies that have revealed similar benefits.
In this case, when we work with the rose in general, it is said that we should think about wearing our own thorns. Perhaps you say yes too often to things you don`t want to do. Are you in the habit of self-sacrificing when you shouldn`t? Maybe you don`t stand up for yourself when you should. The rose is said to encourage us to have outward kindness and loveliness but also remember to protect ourselves by being a little more assertive.
It is also a good plant for those who are better at loving others than themselves. It can help you remember to find the good in yourself rather than looking for imperfections.
Looking at the evidence of the rosehip being supportive for anxiety, I guess this fits together nicely. Whether it does or not, they are good messages to listen to anyhow as each time we put ourselves last, our cells know about it!
Our immune response has been proven to react negatively when we are under stress, watch something that upsets us or generally feel like we are at the bottom of the pile. So put your thorns out a little... protect your emotions a little more, whilst retaining the grace and beauty of the rose and it`s fragrance.
So... what lovely things can you do with the rosehip?
Well... most commonly, people make syrups with it. It`s tasty and kids will usually happily take a spoonful. If you start taking a measure each day from the Autumn to the Spring, it will benefit them greatly over coughs and cold season. If you can double up with elderberry as well then all the better!
If you like making tinctures then that is an easy way of extracting their goodness and a glycerite tincture with rosehips would be great for kids.
If you prefer less of a sweet product, then try them in a tea. Rosehip tea is delicious and very nurturing. Let it steep for a good 15 minutes to get as much goodness out of the little hips as you can.
Herbal vinegars are also very good for extracting the phytonutrients so you could have a look into rosehip vinegar. You can use it as a dressing or dilute a little in water to drink.
More culinary recipes you can find are jams, powders and even ketchup!
Here comes a red flag alert so pay attention carefully to the next bit...
Rosehips are completely non-toxic but as you open them up, there are tiny little hairs inside, a bit like the ones on a cactus. You must remove them before making anything that you are going to consume. Do your research and look into how to do this - there`s plenty of tutorials out there on the internet.
The hairs are very irritating to the digestive tract and you don`t want them in there. Our digestive tract has enough to deal with already without having all those little hairs in their poking around. There are also little seeds that you need to remove so please be careful!
Ok.. warning over.
So what will I be doing with rosehips this season?
At the moment I am drying rosehips so that I can use them throughout the year. You can freeze them also, but I take up far too much room in our freezer with herbal products so I find jars of them to be convenient, and pretty to look at. I`ll be storing my dried ones for further use and making various remedies with fresh ones.
I will definitely be making syrups and tinctures and getting as much into my little girl and my family as possible. We choose to avoid the flu vaccine in our household so we will be fighting off any nasties with our usual routine of supplements and elderberry and rosehip. I`ll also be making rosehip oil to help with any skin issues and to use in my skin care routine.
I am without a kitchen at the moment as the building work is still happening here so no ketchups or jams for me!
You`ll have to let me know if you make any though how they turn out.
So Rosehips are wonderful, help with numerous things and are tasty and pretty. Go out and get some before they go mushy!
It`s late September in the UK and this week has been warm and sunny during the day, with azure blue skies and colder, crisper evenings. The leaves are beginning to change on the silver birch trees, but the other trees are still holding on to their green colours so far. There are ripening and already ripe berries everywhere I look. The blackberries have been pretty special this year. Some of them have been so big… absolute whoppers!
The blackberries are singing their swan song now, as they will be on the turn any day soon and destined to be eaten by the mice, birds and insects. The rosehips and hawthorn berries are ruby red and glistening their “come and pick me” skins in the sunshine.
It really is glorious.
I love this time of the year. I think it could well be my favourite… although I think I say that at the turn of every season.
There`s something about early Autumn where the land is so colourful and fruitful but the weather is still pleasant that makes it a treat to all the senses.
It gives a feeling of coming home to what we know… that the earth provides.
It reminds us that despite all the convenience of modern day living, not long ago in the grand scheme of things, people lived this way. Maybe a memory of a distant past stirs in us all as we feel nostalgia, wonder and awe and excitement at seeing all that the earth has to offer.
What I really love about this time of year is how it reminds us of life`s cyclical nature.
We all have cycles in our lives, regardless of gender. On the most obvious scale we can look at the seasons of our age -where we cycle through our childhood spring time years, our summer time early adulthood, our middle aged Autumn years and our old age in winter.
As a woman, we get to move through our own seasonal changes through our journey of menstruating. Our maiden years are represented by the spring time. We start our journey with menarche (our first bleed) and begin our fertile years. Our child bearing age of motherhood is like the ripening growth of Summer. Our menopause and next few decades are like the Autumn and our wise crone years like the winter.
On yet another layer, each monthly cycle can be akin to the seasons.
Our follicular phase- post bleeding is our spring time, our fertile ovulation phase- mid cycle is our summer, our luteal phase after ovulation – our Autumn and we bleed through our winter.
When we get outside and notice nature, there`s no wonder we feel connected to it. It has a pulse, a rhythm and an energy that we share.
As the seasons move through our house, as a family we tend to honour them and bring our attention to them. We decorate our home and pay attention to what is growing, or receding in the garden. We harvest what is ready and plant for the next part of the earth’s cycle. We have traditions that welcome the changes and bring love and comfort into our homes that will be remembered through generations.
The Autumn equinox is like the spring equinox. The amount of daylight and night is perfectly balanced. In the spring, we have anticipation for the summer at this point and look forward to the longer summer nights beginning. In Autumn, we begin to look inward, ready to rest, ready to explore the darker nights and what life holds over the winter.
It is a time of looking into our own lives and seeing what is out of balance and how we can address this to bring back our own equilibrium. A time to look at relationships, living conditions, our health, our life`s purpose… things come to the surface to be addressed as the Autumn nights lengthen.
It`s a time to prepare our house – our nest for winter. To bed down, to clean and organise it. To nest.
I thought that I would share some of the ways that we mark the week of the equinox in our house. The Autumn equinox is also known as Mabon. Take a look at my notes of what we will be doing and get some ideas of how you can welcome this new phase into your homes.
I encourage you to go and find some Autumn goodies and decorate with them. Put a few pinecones in a nice bowl on your table with a candle in the middle… or… make a display on your hall table with Autumn treasures. Maybe you could dry some berries on the stems and display them in a jam jar or put aside to make a wreath. Go out and gather and connect with who you really are.
The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.