Everything you need to know about the ‘sunshine vitamin’ going into cold & flu season-- Plus, its surprising link to viruses.
Winter is upon us and so is the risk of vitamin D deficiency and viruses.
Vitamin D — sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight— is essential for good health.
Humans need vitamin D to stay healthy and to fight infections.
The problem is that in winter, when people need vitamin D the most, most of us are not getting enough.
So how much do we need? Who needs it most? And, most importantly, how do we get more?
Read on for a deep dive into the vitamin that has recently been featured in the news.
Beware of Vitamin D Deficiency:
The connection between vitamin D and respiratory illnesses is well-known in the health community.
According to the World Health Organization, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to pneumonia, tuberculosis and bronchiolitis.
The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults include tiredness, aches and pains, a chronically low immune system, and a general sense of not feeling well.
There are many reasons why you may not be getting enough vitamin D.
You may be at risk of a deficiency if you:
Are spending more time indoors and aren’t getting enough sunlight.
In the winter, this is particularly difficult because we’re exposed to more viruses, spend less time outside, and the amount of sunlight is limited with shorter days.
In order to produce vitamin-D from the sun, you must get the sun’s UVB rays.
Sun exposure from sitting near an office window or through a closed car window unfortunately doesn’t count. Glass windows block UVB rays, so your body won’t get any of its benefits.
(Also note that because of the risk of skin cancer, dermatologists and other health professionals do not recommend unprotected sun exposure to boost your vitamin D, make sure to protect your skin with SPF year round).
Aren’t getting enough through food sources. Typically, we get vitamin D from three sources – from food, from sunshine, and from nutritional supplements.
Absorbing an adequate amount of vitamin D from our diet is not an easy task!
Most of us don’t consume enough of the necessary foods that can provide us with an optimal amount of vitamin D.
- Live in an area with high pollution or high altitude.
- Are elderly, or struggle with weight management.
These factors contribute to vitamin D deficiency in an increasing number of people.
That’s why it’s important to get some of your vitamin D from sources besides sunlight.
But exactly how much vitamin D does a healthy adult need? That’s debated.
Some health authorities in the United States, such as the Institutes of Medicine, recommend 600 to 800 IU per day for adults, while the Endocrine Society states that optimal vitamin D status may require 1500 to 2,000 IU per day.
Why is Vitamin D so important?
Vitamin D is a health superhero.
It helps the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, strengthens the immune system, and aids cell to cell communication in the body. It’s important for muscle function, the respiratory system, cardiovascular function, brain development, and it even has anti-cancer properties!
Basically, by consuming more vitamin D during the winter, your gut microbes and immune system will be healthier, and you’ll be more resistant to infection and inflammation year-round.
Here are three more surprising benefits of vitamin D:
Vitamin D reduces depression.
Suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder)?
Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression.
In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.
- Vitamin D boosts weight loss.
In one study, people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. The scientists said the extra calcium and vitamin D had an appetite-suppressing effect.
In another study, overweight people who took a daily vitamin D supplement improved their heart disease risk markers.
3. Vitamin D fights disease.
Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases such as:
Reducing your risk of multiple sclerosis, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
Decreasing your chance of developing heart disease, according to 2008 findings published in Circulation
- Reduce your likelihood of developing the flu, according to 2010 research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Vitamin D deficiency has also been recently linked to COVID-19.
This is what we know from the latest reporting...
Research out of New Orleans found 100 per cent of its sickest COVID-19 patients were deficient in vitamin D.
CTV News reported that researchers at the University Hospital Marques de Valdecilla in Santander found that more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 patients were not taking supplements and had a vitamin D deficiency.
- Researchers in Ireland found COVID-19 deaths and infections are lower in countries where vitamin D is added to food or where people are encouraged to take vitamin D supplements, like Finland and Norway.
Protect your health this cold & flu season.
Here’s how to get more Vitamin D quickly and efficiently...
Because we get so little sunlight in the winter, let’s focus on food.
Few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Because of this, some foods are fortified. This means that vitamin D has been added. Foods that contain vitamin D include:
Salmon & fish oils
Algae oils (suitable for vegans)
Orange juice (fortified)
It can be extremely difficult to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food alone, so doctors suggest that taking supplements can help.
Make sure you’re getting the most out of your supplements by reading the ingredients carefully. Did you know that vitamin D supplements are available in two forms?
D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol)-- Both are effective, but at high dosages, D3 seems to be more effective.
Honibe’s Vitamin D supplement is made from natural ingredients and is loaded with 1000 IU of Vitamin D3 per every serving without using any additives. It also includes Natural Canadian honey which is dripping with nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids (great flu fighters).
Right now Honibe's Vitamin D gummiebees are included in every Wellness Bundle, which is a package designed to specifically fit the wellness needs of Canadian families this winter.
This year our health needs all the help it can get...
As we Canadians buckle in for a long cold winter, consider adding this vitamin to your wellness arsenal, so you can focus less on your fight with the flu and more on staying cozy.