Have you been feeling extra tired lately, constantly looking for that extra cup of coffee? Feeling easily irritated and having a low mood? This might be poor sleep, or, vitamin D deficiency.
We have entered the darker times in the Nordics, and the lack of daily sunlight is a fact. Getting the right amount of vitamin D is needed to keep our body functioning well. Vitamin D is essential for several reasons; it helps keep bones healthy and strong, supports cell growth, and benefits immune function. Vitamin D deficiency symptoms might be fatigue, low mood, infection, or regular sickness and muscle pain. In order to prevent symptoms like these from occurring, it is recommended to start taking vitamin D supplements before the darkest months around - for example, in late October. If the levels become low, it can take some time to get these levels back up again.
To get enough D, we should look to certain foods, supplements, and carefully planned sunlight. For our body to synthesize vitamin D, it must be exposed to the sun for about 15-20 minutes daily (for some, this may not be enough, and it can depend on other factors such as a person’s age and skin color). Sunlight exposure is the primary source of vitamin D for most people, and when there is not enough sunlight, this can easily lead to vitamin D deficiency.
Getting sufficient sunlight is the best way to help the body produce enough vitamin D. As mentioned before, the amount of sunlight is not that big during the winter months in the Nordics, and that is why a supplement can be a good addition to your daily intake. In the Nordic region, the nutritional recommendations adopted by the Nordic Council have only recently been amended (2012) and were raised from 7.5 micrograms of vitamin D per day to 10 micrograms.
When it comes to foods, vitamin D can be find in the following ones:
- fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna
- egg yolks
- beef liver
Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common. Most people are although unaware of it since the symptoms often are subtle - it's hard to know whether they are caused by low vitamin D levels or other factors.
Fortunately, a vitamin D deficiency is usually easy to fix. Take a break during the day to catch some sun exposure, add more vitamin D-rich foods to your diet or add a supplement.
Text by Jenny Jungell from The Well Community