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.
The leaves are changing colour quickly at the moment and so is the weather.
It`s this time of year when we start to consider our immunity over the months ahead.
I just wanted to share some tips and tricks I do over these months to keep my family and myself as well as possible over the coming months.
Vitamin C is so important to our bodies. It is needed for over 70 functions in the body, ranging from keeping collagen healthy to detoxifying our system. Most animals can manufacture vitamin C in their bodies for this reason. Humans once were able to make their own vitamin C but over time, humans and guinea pigs (strangely) lost this ability many years ago.
It is available in fruits and vegetables but oxidises very quickly. That means that once the fruit or vegetable has been picked, it starts to degrade in terms of it`s vitamin C content.
Most of us know the value of Vitamin C in terms of keeping a healthy immune system, and you may have even heard about "mega- dosing" in serious illnesses, which appears to be effective. Studies continue in this field.
All year round, I ensure that my family receives a minimum of 250Mg of vitamin C per day as a supplement. The body can only uptake around 250Mg of Vitamin C in one go, so unless you buy a slow-release supplement with a higher dose than 250Mg, it will be wasted and eliminated in your urine.
You can not overdose on vitamin C as it is a water soluble vitamin. Any excess that your body doesn`t need will just make it`s way to your urine.
During this time of year, I dial up the dosage of vitamin C for my family to between 500 and 1000 Mg. I use slow release vitamin C to do this, or, dose throughout the day.
Vitamin C can make some people have looser stools than normal. If this happens to you then you just need to lower the dose.
Vitamin C in foods are all your fruits, berries and vegetables. The more you can eat, the better
Zinc is the master mineral for immunity. Zinc is also necessary for healthy hormone function, tissue integrity (healthy tissues) , brain health and so much more.
I make sure that my family have 20 - 30Mg of Zinc as an adult dose and up to 15Mg for children up to 14 (after that they are classed as adults in the world of supplementation)
There are different quality zinc formulas. Zinc has to be attached to another compound in order to be transported into the cell efficiently. The most bioavailable forms are Zinc picolinate, Zinc bisglycinate or Zinc citrate.
Some important information regarding Zinc - ALWAYS take zinc on a full stomach after a meal containing protein and carbohydrates. If you take zinc on an empty stomach or with a very light meal, it can cause nausea and vomiting.
Zinc can be taken preventatively and is also great for keeping to hand if anyone comes down with an illness. In the case of treating an illness then be sure to take a natural compound called Quercetin along with your Zinc. It will help transport the Zinc right into the part of the cell needed to kill off viruses.
Zinc is available in food sources such as shellfish, meat, poultry and liver. These are the main sources. The vegetarian sources that contain zinc have very little so again, it is best to supplement if vegetarian or vegan. Vegan sources are quorn, peas, tofu, chickpeas, oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. It is essential for bone health, energy levels, digestive health, mood balance, cardiovascular health and for a healthy immune system.
Did you know that studies show that a large proportion of cancer patients are deficient in Vitamin D? The immune system is not only responsible for keeping seasonal illnesses at bay but is on patrol daily for pre-cancerous cells. It`s natural and normal for some of our cells to form with defections. It is the immune system`s job to spot them and eradicate them before they multiply. If our immune system function lowers, this process of seek and destroy goes awry.
Vitamin D is vital for immune health but from October until March (between the Autumn and Spring equinox) the angle of the sun on the earth`s altered axis means that the UVB rays (responsible for the reaction on our skin that forms Vitamin D) just can`t get through to us, even on the sunniest of days.
The NHS are now publicising this and urging the public to take a Vitamin D supplement throughout the winter months.
The RDA for Vitamin D is 400iu, however, RDA means the minimum amount to function! It is unlikely that 400iu is enough for anyone, unless your Vitamin D stores are absolutely tip-top! The bare minimum I advise to supplement with over the winter is 1000iu. For some, I recommend 4000iu daily and for deficiency, even more in the short term.
It`s a good idea to get your Vitamin D levels tested in order to know how to dose as Vitamin D is fat soluble. This means it gets stored in our body and so too much can cause toxicity.
If you wanted to test your vitamin D levels, you can either visit your doctor or do a private finger prick test such as Thriva.
I use this NHS test that costs around £30 to do privately. You can do it at home as a finger-prick test.
When I look at peoples Vitamin D levels, I ideally want them to be 100 - 140 nmol/L
Vitamin D is available as a food source in Salmon, egg yolks, beef, liver, milk, some cheese and certain mushrooms. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you definitely need to supplement with vitamin D.
Just an interesting fact whilst I mentioned the equinoxes... It is very common to develop symptoms around the equinoxes... this can be anything from flare ups of eczema or skin conditions, to aching joints, headaches, and minor illnesses. In addition to it`s daily detoxification, the body goes through two natural detoxifications each year, that coincide with the equinox. You can support yourself in preparation for this my cleaning up your diet and drinking plenty of water around a month before each equinox.
The autumn equinox occurs on Wednesday the 22nd of September this year, so get drinking that water!
Elderberry is one of my favourite immune tonics. It has been proven in clinical trials to be anti-viral, both as a preventative measure and a treatment in acute cases. It lessens the length a virus can take hold and also lessens symptoms. It`s powerful anthocyanins are responsible for it`s anti-viral efficacy. It is also a potent source of vitamin C.
Elderberry is widely available in capsule form, or liquid form. You can even quite easily make your own syrup at this time of year. Here`s a link to my video all about elderberries and how to make your own syrup
Our microbiome is one of the most fascinating areas of the human body. Do you know that we have more bacteria than we do cells in our body!?!
The microbiota is something that really fuels my fire... It is a topic that I am passionate about.
Did you know that scientists are currently working on using specific strains of bacteria to target specific illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease? I guarantee that one day, bacteria will save the world!
You can read more information about your microbiome here
In terms of your immunity, taking a good, broad strain probiotic can really help you out. 70-80% of our immune system stems from our gut. If our gut health is out of balance then this will knock your immune system function for six.
Clinical trials have also proven that a daily probiotic for children is actually more effective at preventing the flu than the flu vaccine. It is also known to prevent gastric illnesses such as the dreaded Norovirus - lovingly known to all parents as "the sick bug".
If you can make sure your diet is well-balanced with the foods mentioned here, you will be off to a flying start in terms of boosting your immunity.
Remember that sugar, depresses our immune systems. One teaspoon of sugar will depress your immune system for 1 hour. Think twice about that sugar in your coffee before you go out and about where coughs and colds are likely to be!
There are some great immune complexes that you can get that combine the nutrients I`ve mentioned into one handy capsule.
One of my favourite complexes is Bionutri`s elderberry complex.
They also do a junior version
Please be advised that babies and infants have different requirements in their dosing and you must seek advice regarding this. Elderly people and those with compromised immune systems should also always seek advice before supplementing with the nutrients mentioned.
If you are on medications then these should also be checked with a health professional.
Health and happiness as always,
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.