For half the year, it is said that a remarkable 90% of the UK is situated too far north of the equator to have enough sunshine for our skin to produce the necessary vitamins. The position of the UK from October to April is believed to have resulted in many of us lacking in vitamin D. Scientists are currently researching low vitamin D levels and the various problems that may be a result of a deficiency.
High blood pressure, diabetes, a weak immune system, depression, chronic muscle pain and various cancers are a few of the health issues in testing.
So how do you know if you are lacking in vitamin D?
1. You are often feeling unwell
Some studies have found a link between low vitamin D levels and the risk of developing infection. Vitamin D is an important part of our immune system, making sure to keep your vitamin D levels up is a good way to boost your immune system and resistance to sickness.
2. You suffer from mood swings
Serotonin is the hormone in the brain associated with mood. This “happy hormone” has been shown to increase when exposed to bright lights and to decrease when lacking sun exposure. Low levels of serotonin in the brain have been linked to increased irritability and feeling low.
3. You get the “winter blues”
Most of us feel happier and more energetic when the UK gives us a sunny, warm day. If you find your mood is unstable and you are often feeling low during the end of the year, it could be a result of a vitamin D deficiency. Studies have shown an association between seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and low levels of vitamin D.
4. Aches and pains are a regular thing
A lack of vitamin D can be an indication when suffering from bone stiffness and muscle aches. For the body to absorb calcium, it needs vitamin D – for the health and growth of bones and joints, this is a vital vitamin.
5. You have dark skin
Researchers have found that those of us with a dark complexion, need up to 10 times more sun exposure than an individual with very pale skin to make the necessary amount of vitamin D. The pigment of your skin acts as a natural sun protection, but do make sure you are wearing the appropriate sunscreen when exposed for long periods of time.
Boosting your vitamin D levels
These days, there are dietary supplements for vitamin D readily available in chemists and supermarkets. Usually available in the D3 form, this can be particularly beneficial during November to March.
Food products can also act as a source of vitamin D, a nutritionist can help you produce a personalised diet plan with the focus of increasing your vitamin D levels. Oily fish (salmon or mackerel), cereals and eggs are a few of the foods that are a good source of vitamin D.
The best and most effective way to boost your vitamin D production is sun exposure. Try to expose your bare legs, back, abdomen and arms. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin in order to produce vitamin D, be sure to avoid exposure when the sun rays are at their strongest, usually between 11am and 3pm.