As the days become shorter and the temperature drops, the winter season brings about a delightful change in scenery. However, it also brings with it a reduction in our exposure to sunlight, which can have a significant impact on our vitamin D levels. In this article, I want to shed light on the importance of vitamin D supplementation during the winter months and provide guidance on the recommended dosage.
Why Vitamin D in winter?
Vitamin D is often referred to as the « sunshine vitamin » because our skin can produce it when exposed to sunlight. However, during the winter, many people experience a decrease in outdoor activities and sunlight exposure due to colder weather and reduced daylight hours. This reduction in sun exposure can lead to a decline in our natural vitamin D synthesis, making supplementation a valuable option. Here are the reasons why you should consider taking a vitamin D supplement during this time:
- Maintaining immune health: Vitamin D plays a crucial role in supporting a robust immune system. Adequate levels of vitamin D are associated with reduced risk of infections and a more efficient immune response. This becomes especially important during the winter months when colds and flu are more prevalent.
- Bone health: Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, which is vital for strong bones and teeth. Inadequate vitamin D levels can lead to a higher risk of bone-related issues such as osteoporosis and fractures, which may be exacerbated in the winter when outdoor physical activity decreases.
- Mood and mental health: Some research suggests that vitamin D may play a role in mood regulation. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that typically occurs in the winter months, and vitamin D supplementation has been explored as a potential way to alleviate its symptoms.
- Vitamin D is also involved in other physiological mechanisms such as blood clotting, hormone signalling, nerve transmission and muscle contraction.
I refer here to the recommendations of the NHS, they candiffer in other countries (in France, there is no public health recommendation for supplementation for example):
- « Babies up to the age of 1 year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
- Children from the age of 1 year and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people at risk of vitamin D deficiency. »
Vitamin D supplements should be used as a complement to a healthy diet, not as a replacement. You can also increase your vitamin D intake through dietary sources: oily fish (salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel), mushrooms, liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods – such as some milks and fat spreads, and breakfast cereals.
But as the winter season limits our natural sunlight exposure, considering a vitamin D supplement can help ensure you maintain optimal vitamin D levels and overall well-being during the colder months.