The nights are drawing in, and the daylight hours are slowly but surely becoming fewer. As we march on into Winter, one of the things I can really suffer with is the Winter Blues – otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is essentially a form of winter depression.
Cue me moping around the house feeling all tired and lathargic, overcompensating on too many cups of coffee to try and shake that fuzzy state of mind and eating far too many slices of cake whilst sporting my Luminette glasses. But that’s really not the answer, because the culprit behind these low moods and energy levels is a lack of Vitamin D. In the UK, during the Winter months, our Vitamin D levels become dangerously low because a) we spend a lot more time indoors b) spend the time outside covered up to keep warm and therefore get a lot less sunlight and c) we are not eating enough healthy fats which help to boost vitamin D levels.
So the question on my lips today is…how can we get more Vitamin D to help us get through the Winter months in this crazy mama life? I find out more from Shona Wilkinson, Lead Nutritionist at Nature’s Best to find out.
Why are we lacking vitamin D?
As we know, the main way our body makes Vitamin D is from the sunlight. This is a problem for people in the UK where the sun is scarce! It is especially difficult in the months from October to May. During the summer months, it is important to get out into the sun at least 30 minutes every day. Remember that any suntan lotion which is above Factor 8 is going to block the Vitamin D production so find that balance between getting enough sun and not getting sun burnt. We are now seeing the return of rickets (a health condition caused by lack of Vitamin D) so make sure children are playing outside as much as possible. If you have enough money, try to go for a winter holiday in the sun!
So how else do I get my Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is also available from our food in small amounts. Try the following dietary tips to gain some Vitamin D through your diet:
Add oily fish to your diet
Oily fish is incredibly good for you. Oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackeral, anchovies and sardines are some of the few foods which contains Vitamin D naturally. They also contain Omega 3 which is an essential fatty acid important for cardiovascular and skin health. Make sure you have about 2-3 portions of oily fish per week. Canned oily fish is a great healthy snack to have.
Mushrooms are also a source of Vitamin D
Try having some sliced mushrooms in your fridge that you can easily sprinkle over a salad or add to soups. There are a huge variety of mushrooms available in the supermarkets nowadays so plenty of options to go for!
Egg yolks contain Vitamin D
People used to be worried about cholesterol and eggs but this has now been disproved so eat them as much as you like! Try having scrambled or boiled eggs for breakfast which will not only give you some Vitamin D but also some protein to help keep you fuller for longer.
Ricotta cheese is one of the few cheeses which contains Vitamin D
Since ricotta cheese is so delicious, it’s an easy addition to make to your diet!
Some cereals are fortified with Vitamin D
Watch out for cereals which have loads of added sugar though.
If you are worried about your Vitamin D levels, you can get a blood test from your GP or order a home test kit from the Vitamin D Council. It is reasonable to assume that if you live in the UK, you may be low in Vitamin D. In this case, it could be beneficial to take a Vitamin D supplement. In fact, the Government in the UK has issued public health advice stating that everyone should consider taking a Vitamin D supplement in the Autumn and Winter. Look for a Vitamin D3 supplement which is better absorbed than Vitamin D2. If you want any further advice, it is best to speak to your GP.
Do you suffer from the Winter Blues? Did you know about the above ways to get more Vitamin D in your life? And for inspiration on how to get more Vitamin D in your diet check out these seafood and egg recipes.
*This is a collaborative post