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Dec 14 2021
Nutrition & Health

Why you need more Vitamin D in winter

In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about Vitamin D, as well as the benefits of making sure you’re topped up during the winter months.

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Matt Martin

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Commonly known as “The Sunshine Vitamin”, Vitamin D is mainly produced by our skin in response to sunlight. We need Vitamin D to keep healthy and fight infections. But, the irony is that during winter, when people need Vitamin D the most, many of us are not getting enough. So why is it important? Should we take supplements? How much should we take? And, who needs it most? Let’s dive into it.

Why is Vitamin D important?

Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to fight infections and keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Vitamin D is also important in reducing the risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.

Why do we need Vitamin D during winter?

Vitamin D is made in our skin following sunlight exposure outdoors, more specifically UVB rays. But, during winter, you should look to get Vitamin D from your diet because the sun is not strong enough alone for the body to produce sufficient Vitamin D.

Which foods provide Vitamin D?

There are not many plant-based foods that are naturally high in Vitamin D. Most often, they will be fortified to contain it. The exception here is mushrooms, which contain significant amounts of Vitamin D2 due to exposure to UVB. Other foods that are often fortified with Vitamin D are: cereals, spreads, and fortified plant milks.

Is Vitamin D the same for vegans and non-vegans?

There are two commonly occurring types of Vitamin D. The first, Vitamin D2 is always suitable for vegans as it derives from plant-based sources. Vitamin D3, on the other hand, is typically found in animal products. However, there are now many vegan Vitamin D3 supplements on the market.

Should we take supplements?

As we are exposed to more infections and spend less time outside during winter, the NHS recommends that everyone should consider taking a daily Vitamin D supplement throughout autumn and winter.

How much should we take? 

10-15 micrograms (400-600 IU) a day will be enough for most people. By consuming more Vitamin D during the winter your gut microbes will be healthier and you’ll be more resistant to infection and inflammation year-round.

Is too much Vitamin D harmful?

Do not take more than 100 micrograms (4,000 IU) of Vitamin D a day as it could be harmful. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium from your diet, but when Vitamin D is too high, calcium levels in the blood go up which can lead to kidney disease.

Who needs Vitamin D most?

Dark-skinned individuals are more likely than fair-skinned individuals to have low Vitamin D because darker skin blocks the UVB rays from producing Vitamin D - in which case supplementation can be pushed up.

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