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Should I supplement with Vitamin D over the winter?

3 min read

As the leaves begin to change colour and the nights draw in, we all brace ourselves for the chilly grip of winter. Alongside the seasonal changes, there is another pressing matter that should be on everyone's mind, especially during the darker winter months - Vitamin D.

In the UK, with its distinct lack of sunshine during this time of year, the question arises: should we be supplementing with Vitamin D? Let's look into the importance of this nutrient and why it might be crucial for those living in regions with prolonged winter gloom.

What is Vitamin D and Why is it Important?

Vitamin D, often termed the ‘sunshine vitamin’, plays a pivotal role in our overall health. Its main function is to aid in the absorption of calcium and phosphate from our diet, which are vital for the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. But its role doesn't stop there. Vitamin D also supports the immune system, muscle function and the nervous system. It plays a role in regulating insulin levels, as well as supporting lung function and cardiovascular health.

Why the UK and Vitamin D?

The primary source of Vitamin D is through direct sunlight on our skin. When exposed to UVB rays, our skin produces Vitamin D. However, in the UK, from October to early March, the sunlight doesn't contain enough UVB radiation for our skin to produce the vitamin in sufficient amounts. Thus, even if you're out and about during the winter months, you're unlikely to get enough Vitamin D from sunlight alone.

Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency

Consistent lack of Vitamin D can have various long-term repercussions:

  1. Bone and muscle pain: Since Vitamin D plays a central role in calcium absorption, deficiency can result in aches and weakness.
  2. Bone abnormalities: Conditions such as osteomalacia (softening of the bones) in adults and rickets in children are directly linked to Vitamin D deficiency.
  3. Reduced immunity: A lack of Vitamin D can compromise the immune system, making one more susceptible to infections.
  4. May increase risk of chronic diseases: There is a growing body of evidence linking Vitamin D deficiency to a higher risk of chronic diseases, including coronary artery disease, and potentially certain types of cancer.
  5. Mood disorders and fatigue: Vitamin D has been associated with mood regulation, and a deficiency can result in symptoms of depression and persistent fatigue.

So, should you supplement?

Given the vital role of Vitamin D and the challenges of obtaining enough during the UK winter, supplementation seems a logical choice for many. The NHS recommends that adults and children over the age of one should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (400IU) of Vitamin D, especially during the winter months.

However, as with all supplements, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.

In conclusion

While the UK winter might deprive us of the much-needed sunshine, it shouldn't deprive us of our Vitamin D. Through informed choices and possible supplementation, we can ensure our bodies remain nourished and protected during the darker and colder months. Remember, our health is holistic, and a little sunshine - even in a tablet - can go a long way!

Related Supplements

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.