As all you fellow Northern Hemisphere dwellers know, when winter arrives there can be a shortage of sunshine. Of course, there are countries that get a lot less than we do in Britain! Some parts of Scandinavia only get a few hours of daylight at this time of year (eek)! But that lack of sunshine can not only make you feel gloomy but it can have a real effect on your health.
Now stop and think about it, how much time do you spend outside? I mean actually outside, not in a car or on a bus. Outside; running, walking, gardening, even just enjoying the fresh air. I bet it's not that much all put together. We all tend to hide away in winter and who can blame us? It's cold outside!
But did you know that 90% of your vitamin D daily requirement must come from the sun? I definitely didn't know that! I obviously knew that you absorbed vitamin D from the sun, but also thought that I would be getting enough from my food as I eat a lot of spinach in salads. But it looks like I was wrong, which means I'm probably not getting enough vitamin D and neither are you!
In a recent survey (by Pharma Nord if you're interested) they found that 1/3 of UK adults spend less than 1 hour a day outdoors (I think it's probably higher than that). 50% of those asked spend less than 2 hours outside and only 5% spend more than 4 hours a day in the outdoors. Most days I probably spend less than 2 hours, as I'm even exercising inside at the moment!
But why is vitamin D so important? Well you know I mentioned feeling gloomy earlier? It turns out that low vitamin D levels can be linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (which I wrote about tackling here). Not having enough vitamin D intake can also make you more susceptible to colds & the flu, as well as leaving you feel tired.
I definitely struggle with shorter days, and I'm fairly certain my immune system goes on holiday during winter! So maybe I need to up my vitamin D intake?
The team behind the survey put together an infographic to tell you more about what they found:
I have to say I didn't even know you could take a vitamin D test! I'm definitely going to be looking into that, as well as trying to spend more time outside.. just need to layer up! I think I can manage 10 minutes of bare skin exposure, it gives me an excuse to drink hot chocolate to warm up afterwards, don't you think?
Another thing this study taught me was that taking a multi-vitamin tablet with vitamin D probably isn't going to help, instead you should try looking for vitamin D3 which is closer to the kind produced naturally by the skin when exposed to the sun. If you find the right tablet then you should try an oil capsule rather than a chalky pill, as these are better absorbed. I've learnt quite a lot from this survey!
As 75% of people asked had never had a vitamin D test, I want to know if it's something you've had? Would you consider it? As I said, it's something I'm going to look at as I have all the symptoms of low vitamin D intake.
I'd love to know your thoughts, so just drop me a comment below!
Remember to get some sunshine!
Stay safe, x
*In the interest of transparency, I was sent the press release of this survey and I decided to share this with you, as it's something that is of personal interest to me. If I don't like it, I don't share it.*
^ I've linked up with HonestMum's Brilliant Blog Posts Linky! ^