With the season changing, leaves are falling, mushrooms are springing up overnight and the days are getting shorter and darker. For a sun goddess hailing from sunny South Africa, these European winters are tough to survive... that is without a 'winter survival' plan and paying attention to my body's Vitamin D levels.
Expose sunshine to your uncovered body and your skin works like a solar panel by making its own vitamin D. Vitamin D is widely known to help us absorb calcium which builds strong bones and can prevent rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
Did you know vitamin D is actually a hormone and not a vitamin? It also plays a role in reducing depression, heart disease, auto-immunity, cancer and many other diseases of systemic inflammation via effects on our immune system. It's wide-reaching effects really support the need to make sure we have adequate levels. significant motivation
Regular sun exposure of 10–30 minutes of midday sunlight, several times per week is the most natural way to get enough vitamin D. Factors that can affect your ability to make vitamin D from sunlight include the time of day, your skin colour, how far you live from the equator, how much skin you expose to sunlight and whether you are wearing sunscreen. It is important to note that tanning beds are to be avoided because they have been linked to the promotion of skin cancers.
Although sunshine is the best way to boost your vitamin D levels naturally, there are some foods rich in vitamin D that are worth eating especially during the dark winter months. Oily fish and organ meats like liver are rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Mushrooms - My daily walks with Rosy have turned to mushroom marvelling expeditions. In the past weeks, I have come across a variety of different fungi. I only admire their otherworldliness and admit that I know nothing about foraging for wild edible mushrooms. However, wild mushrooms the edible varieties, of course, also contain good amounts of vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms can synthesize this vitamin when exposed to UV light. However, mushrooms produce vitamin D2, whereas animals produce vitamin D3 which is a more active and usable form.
Here's another bit of trivia ... Human breast milk is the best source of vitamin D for infants ...as long as the breastfeeding mother is not deficient herself. So now you know!
Do a blood test
Test your vitamin D levels because your blood levels will indicate if and how much you need to supplement. Vitamin D is fat-soluble so it can be harmful to take too much since it can accumulate and is stored in the body and not eliminated easily like other water-soluble vitamins, for example, Vitamin C.
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Until next time, take care - our community is also our immunity!
Nicole Dawson Cullinan