Vitamin D3 - A little pot of sunshine!
January, you may remember, was grey. Very, very grey...
According to the Cambridge English dictionary, grey is an adjective for sad or boring. I didn't just feel sad or bored in January, I was sad, miserable and aching! 'Oh my word', I thought, 'this is a particularly bad start to the year'. I decided to do a bit of research into Vitamin D and try supplementing some sunshine!
There are two types of vitamin D - D2 and D3. D2 comes from food sources, found in oily fish, red meat, egg yolks, liver and in some fortified breakfast cereals. D3 is created by the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet B sun rays.
One of Vitamin D’s functions in the body is to help absorb calcium and phosphorous. Both are needed for healthy, strong bones. Low levels of vitamin D can lead to osteomalacia, which is softening of the bones, causing pain and weakness.
There is an association between a weakened immune system and low levels of vitamin D. This would present with tiredness and frequent coughs or colds. Research is now also showing a connection between vitamin D deficiency and feeling low in mood. Vitamin D receptors have been found in many parts of the brain, including those that are often linked to feelings of depression.
In the UK our bodies may not get the right amount to create the level of vitamin D we need. You need to expose your bare skin to the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays for a period of time. Surprisingly, it’s actually all about how the sun’s rays project onto the earth’s atmosphere. During wintertime, the sun rays come in at such an angle that our world’s atmosphere blocks most of the UVB rays and little vitamin D will be generated by your body. Pale skin makes vitamin D quicker than darker skin types.
The easiest way is to take Vitamin D as a supplement.
The benefits are;
it contributes to the maintenance of your normal muscle function
it contributes to the normal function of your immune system and healthy inflammatory response
it contributes to normal development of your bones and teeth
Supplements are a minefield. Many of my patients will already be aware of this! If you are going to put something into your body to create a positive change, why would you take something that also contained unnecessary additives such as gluten, wheat, lactose, sugar, artificial preservatives or colourings if you could find one of a better quality without?
So then, I found Protea Wellness. They are passionate about their Vitamin D3 product - even the capsule is made from a vitamin D3-rich lichen extract plant base. I have been taking vitamin D3 supplement for 7 weeks now and I noticed a positive change within a couple of weeks. I no longer felt sad or miserable and, more impressively, I no longer ached. In the past I have only supplemented with vitamin C to improve my immune system.
NHS guidelines state that from October until the end of March, the sun isn't strong enough in the UK to produce vitamin D. That means we have to rely on getting it just from the food we eat. Because it's difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone, many of us risk not getting enough. The NHS guidelines suggest vitamin D supplementation to keep levels of the vitamin topped up during the colder months. It is thought one in five people has low vitamin D levels although this is not the same as a vitamin D deficiency.