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Vitamin D: The sunshine vitamin in not so sunny winter

Strong and healthy body. Good mood and lots of energy. Strong hair and quick regeneration. This is a great ideal, but it may not be that easy to get to in the cold winter months. One of the ways you can keep your mind and body healthy is to have enough vitamin D in your system. Deficiency is often associated with a mild cold, fatigue, hair loss, bone and muscle pain, and even depression. So how can you solve all of these problems? Read on to find out.

What is Vitamin D

Let's start by getting a little scientific first.
The name vitamin D actually refers to a group of vitamins: D1 to D5, the most important of which are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol), with the name “vitamin D” mostly referring to either or a combination of both relates. The difference between the two is that D2 is found in plants and fungi, while D3 can come from either animal or lichen. While there are many arguments in favor of which of the two is better to take, with one scientific study after another claiming one or the other, what is clear is that both of them are beneficial to us.
An important role of this vitamin is to help our intestines better absorb calcium, magnesium and phosphate. This is especially important in the early years of life, as rapid bone growth must be supported by sufficient amounts of the above-mentioned minerals and their absorption must be promoted by higher vitamin D levels. Otherwise, there is a high risk of developing a condition called rickets (an abnormal softening of the bones).
In addition, vitamin D helps maintain healthy teeth and muscles. Sufficient amounts of this vitamin are also known to contribute to the growth, repair, and metabolism of skin cells. Therefore, vitamin D helps wounds and burns heal faster and lead to fewer complications and scarring.

The magic of sunshine

We humans can produce vitamin D ourselves. The production of this vitamin happens when we spend enough time outside in the sun, our skin absorbs the sunlight (UVB light) and thereby our liver and kidneys produce this important vitamin. This is why vitamin D is also commonly known as the sunshine vitamin.
However, this process depends on several factors, such as the time of year and the intensity of the sun. For example, during the summer months, when the sun is at its strongest, you would have to spend 5 to 30 minutes in the sun with bare face, hands, legs or back twice a week in order to produce a sufficient amount of vitamin D. However, the use of sunscreen reduces the absorption of UVB light, which means it takes longer to produce the same amount of vitamin D. On the other hand, we all know the harmful effects of excessive exposure to UVB light, which increases the risk of skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to rely on the sun to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D.
Another factor that affects how much vitamin D we can produce ourselves is our skin type. The darker the skin, the longer you have to expose yourself to the sun to produce the same amount of this vitamin, as a higher proportion of melanin reduces the amount of UVB light absorbed.
After all, due to Europe's geographical location, the sun's intensity in the winter months is unfortunately not strong enough even for people living in southern Europe to produce enough of this vitamin. Even Spaniards, Italians and Greeks suffer from vitamin D deficiencies in the winter months. In addition, our lifestyles have changed drastically over the decades, which means that many of us spend the days indoors and only get outside in the sunlight on the weekends during the long winter months. You can count yourself lucky if you manage to catch some sunlight during this time.
So, to sum up, the sunshine vitamin is easiest to collect in summer, but if we're indoors all year, covered up when we go outside, and using sunscreen, we may not take in as much vitamin D. As a result, natural sunlight is not a sufficient source for most people.

Vitamin D foods

Another way you can get the sunshine vitamin is through your daily diet. There are several foods that are higher in vitamin D. The best source is oily fish, such as tuna, salmon, or mackerel. These fish store reserves of this vitamin in their adipose tissue and liver. They do not produce vitamin D themselves, but rely on the consumption of plankton as a source of vitamins. It is therefore important to know that high levels of vitamin D are usually found in wild fish. Farmed fish get all of their vitamin D through a diet controlled by the producer. It is therefore noteworthy that farmed fish usually have significantly lower amounts of this vitamin. Not to be forgotten is that fish are known to store mercury, which is toxic in excess, and the larger the fish, the more mercury it can contain (salmon and tuna, for example). It is therefore generally not advisable to eat fish too often.

Other foods that contain vitamin D are red meat, liver, egg yolks (especially from chickens that are outside in the sun and given diets fortified with vitamin D).

There are also some sci-fi sounding sources, like mushrooms, that are exposed to radiation or UV light. But in reality it's a lot simpler: mushrooms that have been dried in the sun can have higher levels of vitamin D than raw mushrooms. This happens because mushrooms have a special ability to produce vitamin D. As an example, an experiment was made with shiitake mushrooms. After drying these mushrooms outdoors in 6 hours of sunlight for two days, they had more vitamin D when dried gill-up - increasing from 100 IU per 100 grams to nearly 46,000 IU. Even a year later, these mushrooms persisted still significant levels of this vitamin. As such, sun-dried mushrooms could be a great option for vegans.

After all, many foods, like dairy products and grains, are fortified with vitamin D, which means that extra vitamin has been added to them by manufacturers. Fortifying foods with vitamin D is often used to help the calcium contained in these foods be better absorbed. This is especially important for children as these foods help them strengthen their bones as they continue to grow. But it is also an option for adults to further enrich their diet.

Dietary supplement with vitamin D.

Finally, there is another easy and reliable way to ensure our body is getting enough of what it needs. That is taking nutritional supplements. Why? Well, simply put, just relying on a combination of sun exposure and healthy eating might be an option in the summer months, but in winter, when many of us don't see much of the sun for weeks, it can be extremely difficult to find the right one Ensure levels of vitamin D through food intake alone. The result is that energy levels drop, mood worsens, and muscle pain can also occur more frequently. That is why we have to take matters into our own hands and ensure that our bodies are taken care of.
It's easy to do in this day and age.
Carefully researched and manufactured supplements help us get the right amounts of the vitamin without having to guess whether our diet is getting us enough of what we need without having to rely on foods that may not always be Are part of our typical diet, and without our potentially carcinogenic sun rays exposure to excessive sun exposure. With vitamin D supplements, we know exactly what we are consuming and can be sure that we are maintaining a healthy body. Not to mention that when we're experiencing prolonged vitamin D deficiency and our bodies are getting so little of it, the only way to get back on track might be to consume higher amounts of vitamin D found in supplements to be provided.

Vitamin D intake recommendations

According to EU regulation 1169/2011, the daily intake of vitamin D for an adult is set at 5μg (200 IU), but everyone is different and several factors should be considered. Other health sources give 400 to 800 IU as the optimal daily amount.
So what's right for you?
The best option, especially in winter or early spring, is to see your family doctor. They can take a blood test of your vitamin D levels, tell you if you have adequate levels, and advise you if you need additional help by recommending the optimal dose of vitamin D supplements. For example, if a person is extremely deficient in vitamin D, some health professionals will prescribe a dose of up to 4,000 IU per day and it is generally agreed not to exceed this limit.
Overall, it can be said that based on how often you see the sun and how much seafood you eat, you can determine for yourself whether it is necessary to take a prophylactic daily recommendation for vitamin D.

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