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Why do people take Vitamin D, especially in winter?

The clocks are about to change, the days are shorter and many of us are feeling just a little more lethargic than normal. In these periods of less sunlight, many people swear by taking vitamin D supplements or consciously increasing foods rich in vitamin D in their diet. The question is, why?

Lots of people are deficient in it, more so in the winter months in cold countries.

Vitamin D

Why do we need vitamin D?

The main thing we associate vitamin D with is keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy. However, research is also showing that there is some link to mood regulation and sleep quality. The winter months are often linked to SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder)

ScienceDirect says:

“Recent insights addressed the role of vitamin D in serotonin and melatonin regulation, suggesting that increasing vitamin D status may be helpful for improving mood and sleep.”

How do we get it?

From sunlight

The body creates it from direct sunlight on the skin. Most people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight on their skin between the months of late March and September, although lots of people are deficient and if you’re unsure it might be worth testing. Of course, this has to be balanced with safe sun exposure but the amount of direct exposure required typically amounts to no more than 30 minutes a day.

Vitamin D from foods

You can also get it from some foods. In the winter months this is particularly necessary as there’s not. Examples of foods rich in the vitamin include:

  • Oily fish - such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified foods such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals

A lack of folate, vitamin B12 and magnesium are all linked to depression as well. You can get these from:

  • Whole grains
  • Pulses
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Nuts
  • Dried apricots
  • Dark chocolate

Taking a vitamin supplement

Some people struggle to get enough vitamin D from their diet and sunlight alone, finding the addition of a supplement helpful. If you don’t like fish for example, which is one of the most common food sources, then you can supplement your diet with omega 3 or cod liver oil capsules.

Guidelines suggest you aim for 1,000mg with each meal, building up to this dose slowly over two weeks. However, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.


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