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On Monday I spent the day whinging about the fecking rain, I felt cold, damp and miserable. To be fair good summers in Ireland are like hens teeth (correct, they don’t exist!), and you’d imaging having lived my whole life in Ireland I’d be used to it by now. Nope it still drives me bloody nuts. This morning I opened the blinds and the sun was shining (yippee), instantly I was excited to start my day, I felt happy, energised and alive. How can the mere sight of sunshine have such a positive effect on my mood. Vitamin D baby! The body inherently knows that sunshine = Vit D = a better mood and so much more! Vit D is super important for good health but unfortunately deficiencies are quite common. This can be due to living in a country with limited sunshine (like Ireland grrrr) or spending way too much time in doors locked away from that beautiful glowing ball in the sky. Life has changed over the last few decades, most people work inside and in general spend more time indoors.

Vit D, also know as the sunshine vitamin is produced in the body in response to the skin being exposed to sunlight. Now let’s face it, we get feck all sunny weather in Ireland, therefore our exposure to sunshine is quite limited. So is it any wonder that a large percentage of the population are struggling to keep their Vit D levels in a healthy range.

Before I go any further let’s get to know a little bit more about this super important vitamin. Firstly Vit D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones, teeth, muscle function and immune function. It is a fat soluble vitamin, why do you need to know this? Well if you’re taking it in supplement form it’s important to remember to take it with a source of fat such as coconut oil, nuts, seeds etc to increase its absorption. Don’t worry I’ll cover supplements in a minute. Vit D is important for calcium and phosphorus absorption/utilisation and if you are deficient in Vit D, chances are your calcium and phosphorus levels will take a dip too.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Restless sleep
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches

3 Ways To Obtain Vit D

Sun Exposure

Now, as I mentioned earlier uninterrupted (without sunscreen) skin exposure to sunlight = Vit D production, this is the optimum way to obtain Vit D.  Sunscreen is designed to block the suns rays and therefore prevents the body from making Vit D.  It is recommended to get ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure every day. What does this mean? Well exposing your face and/or limbs to sunlight daily. Personally I always use a chemical free sunscreen on my face and hands as the skin is thinner on these areas, which means that they age faster, ahhh no thank you! So I when I go for a walk I try to expose my arms as much as possible. Some people may also be concerned about sun exposure and the link to cancer and if you are then maybe a supplement is the best way to go.

Food

It is also possible to get Vit D in smaller amounts from foods such as fish, fish liver oils, eggs and fortified foods, but bare in mind you will not get anywhere near as much as you will from sun exposure. I include Vit D rich foods in my diet, but I like to take a Vit D supplement to fill in any gaps as I know I simply won’t get enough from my diet and my limited sun exposure.

Supplements

Ok let’s talk supplements. I am a huge fan of supplements, now I don’t go too mental on them but I do have a certain few that are my non-negotiables. I’ll cover those on another blog post, so for now let’s focus on Vit D. Vit D is one of those supplements I recommend to quite a few of my clients, especially those living in Ireland and the UK. So what should you look for in a supplement? I recommend buying a good quality supplement from a health food store rather than a pharmacy. Make sure to ask questions and mention any medications or other supplements you may be currently taking. Look for Vit D3 as it is absorbed very well by the body. You can buy it in capsule or spray form (the spray form is for oral use). As mentioned above, make sure to take Vit D with a source of fat to help with absorption. The recommended daily allowance is 600 IU for adults, but you will notice that most high quality supplements will be 2000 IU and sometimes even a little higher. This is quite safe, Vit D can potentially become toxic to the body at 50,000 IU and up.

If after reading this post if you are concerned that you may be Vit D deficient you can get a simple blood test from your GP to check your levels. Once you know where you stand you can start making changes to your diet, increasing your sun exposure and even look at including a supplement into your life.