Frost is glittering on the leaves, puddles are frozen, and snow is falling gently onto snug cottages like icing sugar. That’s winter, right? Well, maybe on a picture-perfect postcard. But, in reality, winter is grey skies, draughty windows, and gloomy days. The short daylight hours mean one thing - a lack of sunlight. And not enough sun means not enough vitamin D.
In this article, we’ll share what vitamin D is, why you need it, and the best way to absorb vitamin D in winter. Read on if you’re ready to restore your sunny mood.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D, also known as the sunlight vitamin, comes from the sun. Your skin absorbs the UV light, sparking vitamin D synthesis in your body. But UV rays are bad! We hear you cry. Too much UV exposure can harm your skin, but, like a plant, you need the sun to thrive.
What Happens if You Have a Vitamin D Deficiency?
Unfortunately, the UK isn’t known for its sunshine-filled weather. Instead, it has a reputation for rain, wind and umbrellas. Below are some things that can happen when you don’t have enough of the sun vitamin.
- Vitamin D and hair loss - Vitamin D contributes to a healthy hair growth cycle, managed by cells called keratinocytes. Without enough of the vitamin, keratinocytes struggle to form. Your hair growth cycle slows, and the resting stage lengthens, causing slow hair growth and hair shedding.
- Vitamin D and thyroid - The thyroid is a gland responsible for managing your metabolism. A lack of vitamin D may cause underactive thyroid hormones, leading to sluggishness and weight gain.
- Vitamin D and mental health - Vitamin D and serotonin (your happy hormone) are intricately linked. When your receptor receives sunlight, it triggers serotonin production, lifting your spirits. That means vitamin D and mood rely on each other. In a nutshell, low levels of vitamin D can cause a low mood.
Read more: How to Improve Your Mental Health in Winter.
- Vitamin D and immune system - The essential vitamin releases cytokines to fortify your defences against illness. Without enough, you can develop a weak immune system.
Read more: How To Boost Your Immune System In Autumn.
- Vitamin D and inflammation - The sun vitamin is incredible at producing IL-10, a potent anti-inflammatory cytokine that soothes aggravated cells. But if you’re lacking vitamin D, inflammation rises, causing swollen joints, irritated skin and digestive problems.
- Vitamin D and blood pressure - Because vitamin D has incredible anti-inflammatory properties, it calms swelling in your arteries, keeping vessel walls clear for improved blood flow. However, too little and blood vessel structures tighten, increasing blood pressure and affecting heart health.
Simple Ways to Get More Vitamin D in Winter
Short days and cloudy skies make getting your dose of Vitamin D in winter difficult. But there are some simple ways you can increase vitamin D synthesis over the chilly, dark months.
Top up Your Body With a Vitamin D Supplement
Taking vitamin D supplements is a go-to for anyone looking to increase their vitamin D levels. A great supplement should encourage fast absorption and work with other active ingredients to boost serotonin levels, lower inflammation, and protect your immune system.
The best vitamin D supplement
Arella Beauty Liquid Collagen is formulated with plant-powered vitamin D3 to encourage synthesis in your body. Vitamin D3 is the main vitamin that strengthens bones and teeth, regulates moods, balances hormones and lowers blood pressure. Create a tranquil space in your day to enjoy the supplement infused with Japanese plum and enhance your vitamin D levels from the inside out.
Bathe in Fresh Winter Sunlight
Vitamin D and sunlight are essentially the same thing. So, grab your coat and head outside whenever you see a ray of sunshine. You need about an hour of light on a cloudy day to increase vitamin D levels.
If you don’t have time for an hour's walk, which, let’s be honest, most people don’t, get outside whenever you can. This is especially important on a clear day. Take advantage of blue skies to increase your levels whenever possible.
Nurture Yourself With Vitamin D Rich Foods
You can’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin from food alone, but foods rich in vitamin D are an excellent way to up your intake.
Top 10 vitamin D foods
Below are the best vitamin D-enriched foods to include in your diet over the winter months. Some include oily fish and meat, but there are also plenty of vitamin D foods for vegetarians and vegans.
Read more: How to Start Veganuary.
- Salmon - Oily fish, especially salmon, is a food rich in vitamin D. It also contains omega-3, which is excellent for inflammation.
- Tuna - If you enjoy tuna, you’re in luck. Have it on a jacket potato, in sandwiches or with pasta.
- Beef - Red meat, including beef, is another way to increase your sunshine vitamin. However, too much can raise blood pressure, so have it about once a week.
- Liver - Not many people love liver, but it is one of the most nutrient-dense parts of animals and contains vitamin D.
- Egg yolks - Enhance your vitamin D levels with golden egg yolks. Try scrambled, boiled or poached.
- Almond milk - Nut milk made from almonds often has added vitamin D, but check the label.
- Fortified breakfast cereals - There are a lot of wholegrain cereals that contain vitamin D, like bran flakes and Weetabix.
- Orange juice fortified with vitamin D - A glass of orange juice a day can boost your vitamin D intake. Just ensure you double-check the packaging.
- Fortified soy yoghurt - A delicious alternative to dairy yoghurt is soy, which can contain some vitamin D.
- Tofu, fortified with vitamin D - Tofu is made from pressed soybeans and makes a delicious meat alternative whilst increasing your vitamin D.
Read more: The Ultimate Autumn Superfoods.
Enhance Your Vitamin D in Winter With Arella Beauty
Foods containing vitamin D and getting sunlight are great ways to top up vitamin D in winter, but they’re not always enough. Arella Beauty’s collagen supplement is enriched with the sun vitamin to nourish your body. Stay beautiful and shine over winter with Arella Beauty.
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Written by Emma Carey for Arella Beauty.
Emma is a holistic beauty and wellness writer. She has three years of experience in the well-being industry and a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and Wellness. Check out her portfolio and follow her on Instagram.