The busy holiday season is over, which means a return to structure and routine. You may be welcoming this back with a sense of renewed energy from time spent reconnecting with friends and family, with extra motivation to crank it up again at the gym! But for many people, decreased sunlight in the winter season can make it hard to feel energized (especially when a #bombcyclone drops temperatures down to arctic levels!).
What’s the deal with winter mental fog?
Shorter daylight hours can make it tough to get moving, especially if you start work before the sun rises and get home when it’s dark outside. This is because the body’s primary source of vitamin D is sunlight - it’s one of the few vitamins that doesn’t come strictly from food (actually, very few foods contain vitamin D). Sunlight on the skin triggers the body’s natural process to synthesize it into vitamin D.
Research has shown a correlation between low vitamin D levels and depression. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, which is responsible for regulating your mood and producing feel-good hormones.
Since broad spectrum sunblock screens out the same UVB rays the body uses to create vitamin D, increased emphasis on protection from the sun further complicates the issue and can lead to deficiencies, even in sunnier months... While protecting ourselves from over-exposure to the sun’s radiation, we’re also blocking out what the body would naturally use to create vitamin D.
In addition to helping you feel good, vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and can help prevent risk of bone brittleness and Osteoporosis.
Further, the negative impact of a vitamin D deficiency on the body can even lead to conditions that cause hair loss as a secondary symptom, and there is evidence to suggest that vitamin D is directly involved in supporting the process of hair growth and hair follicle health. Read this article by HairLossRevolution for more information.
How much vitamin D is healthy?
Most health organizations recommend around 600 IU daily for the average adult, assuming you’re getting a combination of vitamin D from your diet and sunlight. However, research recommends 1,000 IU daily if you’re not getting exposure to sunlight. Your doctor can recommend the exact right amount for you, and a simple blood test can determine whether you’re getting enough. Like any vitamin, too much can have adverse effects, so consult with a doctor before making any big changes.
Here are three ways you can keep your vitamin D levels in check without going on a cruise to Bermuda:
Eat like an Eskimo: Eating fatty, wild-caught fish like salmon and mackerel is the highest-impact way to add significant amounts of vitamin D to your diet. Not a fan of fish? Some other foods with higher than average amounts of vitamin D are oats, eggs (from pasture-raised hens, which are exposed to sunlight), yogurt, and mushrooms.
Get your glow on with a sun lamp: Did you know doctors used to prescribe time in tanning beds to combat low vitamin D levels? You can get the same effect without damaging your skin with a sunlamp designed specifically to boost vitamin D. You can keep this on your desk and do some serious, feel-good multi-tasking (not bad for selfie lighting, either!).
High-quality supplement: Still needing a boost? Keep your vitamin D levels stable with a daily supplement. We recommend Well Told Health’s Vitamin D Booster supplement. This brand of vitamins is unique because, unlike the majority of vitamin D supplements which are made from hormones harvested from sheep (yuck!), Well Told Health’s is plant-based and sourced from organic Portobello mushrooms, which which metabolize the sun’s energy to vitamin D just like humans! This organic, non-GMO, vegan supplement is free of fillers and synthetics, and we’re so excited to share it with you in our January clean.fit box!