Guest blog by Sam Hadadi,
With the nights drawing in and the clocks soon to change, the hot days of summer are already fading to a distant memory.
But while autumn can mean cosying up on the sofa, huge bowlfuls of steaming comfort food and endless cups of hot chocolate with cacao, it can also affect both our body and our health. Here at Lucy Bee we’re all for embracing the outdoors and get as much fresh air as possible, whatever the time of year.
You see, with the darker mornings and the dreary skies, sunshine can be hard to come by. And with that lack of blue skies also comes a lack of the so-called sunshine vitamin, vitamin D.
The body gets most of our vitamin D when the sun hits our skin. We then use this clever little vitamin for many important processes in our body.
For starters, we need vitamin D to control calcium and phosphate levels for healthy, strong bones and teeth. Without it, we can develop rickets, a serious condition that can weaken the bones.
A vitamin D deficiency can also damage our overall health, send our ability to fight off infection plummeting (yep, even more winter colds!) and even affect our muscle function.
A lack of this vitamin can also lead to circulatory or respiratory problems, as well as raising your risk of depression, certain cancers and asthma, too.
Scarily, millions of us are deficient in vitamin D (up to three-quarters of people in the US alone) and we don’t even know it. This can cause us all sorts of health problems, as well as muscle weaknesses or pain.
While most people can get their top-up of the sunshine vitamin by enjoying a healthy diet and a little sunlight each day (just 10 – 15 minutes a day), that’s not always possible here in the UK in the winter months…
As you probably know from the endless grey skies, there simply isn’t enough sun – and that means that our body can’t make enough vitamin D during the winter months. If you’re pregnant, aged six months to four years, or elderly, then this risk will be even higher.
If you’re not lucky enough to be jetting off to the Caribbean this winter, then there are also plenty of other things you can try. Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, contain vitamin D, as well as egg yolks.
If you’re worried about your vitamin D intake, there’s the option of a simple supplement you can take, just make sure that you look at how much vitamin D it contains, it is recommended that we have 400 IU/d (10mcg) by the NHS that we take no more than 4,000 IU/d (100mcg). As over this may increase your risk of hypercalcaemia and kidney stones.
Of course, you could always flex that credit card and get booking that winter break. What more of an excuse do you need…?
We’ve more information on vitamin D here.
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Sam Hadadi is an ex-BBC journalist and now a freelance writer specialising in fitness and food.