Most people get the vitamin D they need from the sun – at least during the spring/summer. However, in winter, your vitamin D levels can dip, which could leave you at risk of bone and back pain, low immunity, fatigue and more. It’s important that you do your bit to increase your vitamin D intake to stay healthy all year round.
Why is vitamin D important?
Vitamin D helps your body to absorb the calcium that is needed to keep your bones strong. Children who suffer from a lack of vitamin D are at risk of developing rickets, whilst adults could end up with fragile bones. One study has even found that vitamin D could help ward off depression, providing mood regulating benefits.
Our bodies’ key source of vitamin D comes from the sun, which, as we know can be scarce during the winter. However, it is present in other sources, and it’s important to ensure that you’re getting the right amount.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency
There are many people who are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, especially those who aren’t exposed to enough sunlight. People who are vulnerable and housebound, for example, and shift workers could find themselves missing out on the vitamin D that their bodies need. While not everyone will show symptoms, some of the signs of vitamin D deficiency include:
- Having a low immunity and finding yourself regularly fighting illness
- Feeling regularly tired and fatigued
- Suffering with back pain and bone pain
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
- A dark tone to the skin
Many of the typical signs of vitamin D deficiency are often associated with other things, so if you’re concerned about any symptoms that you’re showing, make sure you consult your doctor.
Increasing your vitamin D intake
While many people suffer from a lack of vitamin D, the good news is that there are ways to increase your intake. Some of the things you can do to boost your vitamin D levels include:
Being outside during daylight is the best way for your body to get the vitamin D that it needs.Try going for a walk at lunchtime or in the afternoon to get some much-needed sunlight. In the summer this is easier, so you’ll need to make more of a conscious effort in winter months.
Eat oily fish
As well as its many other health benefits, oily fish can be a good source of vitamin D. Try making salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring a regular part of your diet.
Egg yolks are also rich in vitamin D, so why not start your day with an egg-based breakfast to help you boost your intake first thing in the morning?
Red meat also contains vitamin D, and it’s also packed with protein that’s good for the body. Eating lean red meat products can also help keep your fat intake down.
Many products such as cereals and spreads are fortified with vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, so it’s worth checking their nutritional information the next time you’re in the supermarket.
Over the counter supplements
Vitamin D supplements are now the most popular over the counter vitamin, and can help people to increase their intake, especially during the winter months.
NHS choices has some great information on vitamin D to help you get further advice.
Making sure that your body gets enough vitamins and minerals is a key part of self-care. If you’re at all concerned that you aren’t getting enough or that you’re beginning to see symptoms of a deficiency, then make sure you contact your GP. You can also get help out of hours for urgent medical issues, so make sure to call 111 during the evenings and weekends if needed.