If you’re like many of us, you might find that the dark is getting to you. It happens every year, when clocks change and sunshine hours dwindle. But what you may not realize is that the scarcity of sunlight during the winter months can do more than make you feel tired at the end of the day.
Sunshine is necessary for the synthesis of vitamin D, a nutrient that plays a role in several functions in our body. Because Canadians are exposed to less daylight in the winter, it’s common to have lower levels of vitamin D. And unfortunately, this can impact our overall health in a variety of ways.
So why is vitamin D so critical and how can we ensure that we get enough of it, particularly when it’s colder? Keep reading to find out all about this important nutrient and why we think it’s something everyone should add to their daily routine.
Understanding Vitamin D
Before we explore the winter-specific importance of vitamin D, let’s take a moment to understand this nutrient. Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because our skin produces it in response to sunlight exposure. However, during the winter months, when sunlight is limited, it becomes challenging for our bodies to produce an adequate amount of vitamin D.
For Canadians who endure long, harsh winters, this can really impact our health. Here’s why getting an adequate amount of vitamin D is so vitally important:
One of the primary roles of vitamin D is to support calcium absorption in the body. Calcium is necessary for maintaining strong and healthy bones, and vitamin D ensures that calcium is effectively absorbed in the intestines and utilized by the bones.
If we don’t have a sufficient level of vitamin D, we could start to experience weakened bones and an increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis. While this is particularly critical for older adults, vitamin D helps to keep our bones healthy and strong at any age. A recent meta-analysis confirmed a positive correlation between vitamin D and bone health in adults.
Think about how little of our skin is exposed when we’re bundled up in winter clothing. Because of this, we’re unable to synthesize as much vitamin D as we do during the summer months, and may need to top up our vitamin D levels with a supplement.
Immune System Support
Vitamin D is also renowned for its immune system-boosting properties. It plays an important role in modulating the immune response, helping the body defend against infections and illnesses. Since the risk of colds, flu, and other illnesses is elevated in the winter months, vitamin D can be a saviour for maintaining a strong immune system capable of fighting off viruses.
Low levels of vitamin D may also contribute to an increased susceptibility to respiratory infections. If you want to ensure a strong immune system that’s capable of fighting off illness, make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of vitamin D.
Research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in maintaining cardiovascular health. It’s believed to contribute to the regulation of blood pressure and support overall heart function. Given the increased risk of cardiovascular events during the winter months, optimizing vitamin D levels may be a proactive measure for optimal cardiovascular health.
Mood & Energy Regulation
Beyond its role in physical health, vitamin D has been linked to mood and energy regulation, making it an important nutrient for mental well-being. Research suggests that vitamin D may play a role in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness, making it a good choice to help with feelings of anxiety and depression. Supplementation can also improve levels of fatigue.
Reduced exposure to sunlight and the resulting lower levels of vitamin D may even be a contributing factor in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you experience low energy and symptoms of depression, supplementing may help mitigate winter’s impact on your mood, providing a natural way to support your mental health.
Choosing the Right Supplement
There are lots of good reasons to boost your vitamin D levels this winter! If you’re looking to supplement, we can help. We carry a variety of vitamin D formulations, making it easy for all ages to ensure that their levels are adequate throughout the year.
When choosing a vitamin D supplement, you’ll want to consider factors like dosage, absorption rate, and additional ingredients. Consulting with our healthcare professionals can help you determine the optimal supplement based on your individual needs and health status.
You can’t escape winter in Alberta, but you can ensure that you’re fortifying your body with the nutrients it needs, like the “sunshine vitamin”. Take a proactive approach to maintaining your overall health with Firstline Nutrition.
Don’t let winter get you down. Come visit us to find out how we can boost your mood and your health with quality supplements like vitamin D. We’ll have you feeling your best and walking on sunshine in no time!