Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin as it can be produced when skin is exposed to the sun.
It’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of this vital vitamin, and this is especially the case in the colder months of the year.
Not only is vitamin D essential for physical health, but it’s is also an important factor for boosting mental well-being.
Vitamin D and Mental Health
Vitamin D can help to reduce the symptoms of depression and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Individuals who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may find that they benefit from an increased intake as well.
In countries with warm summers and cold winters, our bodies can usually make all the vitamin D we need from about April through to September. During the rest of the year, the sun simply isn’t strong enough for our bodies to create enough.
Seasonal depression often presents in the form of fatigue and loss of interest in usual activities. This can also cause increased irritability and anxiety, which can affect many areas of a person’s life. Some people find that these symptoms are reduced with adequate vitamin supplementation.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Approximately 20 percent of adults living in the UK are not getting enough of this essential vitamin. People who don’t go outside every day are at a greater risk for deficiency.
For people with light skin, spending 20-30 minutes a day outdoors is usually enough time. However, people with darker skin have greater amounts of melanin, which reduces their ability to synthesize vitamin D from the sun. For these people, more than 30 minutes a day outside is needed to produce an adequate amount of vitamin D.
Soaking up some vitamin D from the sun is just one of the many amazing benefits of working out outdoors!
Physical Health Benefits
Vitamin D helps your body to regulate and absorb phosphate and calcium, which helps with the growth and maintenance of healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. Deficiency can lead to bone loss as well as muscle weakness.
Vitamin D also plays a role in heart health and the proper function of the immune system. Adequate intake, especially in the winter months, can help to prevent illnesses like the flu and common colds.
Research suggests that having enough vitamin D can also lower your chances of developing diabetes, arthritis, and even dementia.
Vegan Sources of Vitamin D
While animal products are the main source of dietary vitamin D, there are plenty of vegan options as well.
Some foods, such as breakfast cereals, tofu, and non-dairy fat spreads, are fortified with vitamin D. Plant-based milks, like those made from coconut, soy, or almond, may often have vitamin D added as well. You can often find that certain types of mushrooms can be a source of vitamin D.
Whenever you are grocery shopping, be sure to read the nutritional label, as not all products are fortified with vitamin D. Those that are may vary widely in how much of the vitamin has been added.
If you’re looking for ways to simplify your diet while maximising your nutrition, then Huel Hot & Savoury could be a great choice for you!
How Much Vitamin D is Enough?
In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) recommends that adults get 10 micrograms (or 400 IU) of this vitamin daily. A serving of fortified cereal or plant-based milk may only contain about 10 percent of this requirement.
Since it can be challenging to get enough vitamin D from diet alone, you may wish to consider supplements. Again, it’s important to read the label as many types of supplementary vitamin D come from animal sources, usually labelled as D3.
Vegan supplements commonly contain D2, which is derived from plants but may also use D3 derived from lichen (algae).
These days, it’s much easier to find products that are safely certified as being totally vegan. So if a product isn’t labelled, and you’re concerned about what’s in it, then it’s a good shout to do your own research.
Don’t Overdo it!
Too much vitamin D from supplements can be just as risky as a deficiency. Over-supplementation can damage the heart and kidneys and cause hypercalcemia which weakens the bones. According to the NHS, more than 4000 IU daily can be harmful.
Protect Your Health
Set yourself up for a healthy and happy winter every year by ensuring an adequate vitamin D intake. Usually, a combination of a healthy diet and regular supplements works best for most people.
Be sure to take advantage of those days when the sun is shining to get outside and soak up some rays. If you find that you don’t have time to get outside as much as you’d like, then it might be time to address your lifestyle! If you’re working a day job, then getting out for a walk on your lunch break is a great way to move your body more and enjoy some sunshine.
Now that you know all about this wonderful vitamin, why not learn all about the health benefits of zinc!