The risk of vitamin D deficiency increases during the dark season. Why is that, and what should I consider in winter to maintain a healthy level? Let’s first explain what vitamin D is and why the skin plays a crucial role in its synthesis.
What Is Vitamin D, And What Is It Suitable For?
It is a whole group of fat-soluble vitamins called calciferol. They all regulate the body’s calcium and phosphate balance and significantly influence the mineralization of our bones. In particular, vitamins D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol) play a significant role in our physical health.
It is also an essential factor for the immune system. In addition, the group of D vitamins also associates with various metabolic processes, the formation of proteins, and the control of a wide variety of genes.
What Does Vitamin D Have To Do With The Skin?
It is usually 80-90% formed by the body through the skin! One speaks here of the so-called self- synthesis. It is because our body needs sunlight to be able to produce it. Therefore, it contains UV-B rays, which ensure that provitamin D3 (already present in our skin cells) converts into vitamin D3.
The remaining 10-20% comes from food. The foods include, for example, selected offal, edible mushrooms, or fatty sea fish – foods that end up on the plate in Germany comparatively rarely or only in small quantities.
How Do I Recognize A Vitamin D Deficiency, And What Are The Consequences?
Various non-specific symptoms can indicate the body’s deficiency in the sun vitamin. It includes
- Hair loss.
- Muscle weakness, muscle pain.
- Increased susceptibility to infection.
In children, one speaks of rickets, and in adults of osteocalcin. The calcium content of the bones is reduced to such an extent that the stability of the bones is impaired. The consequences can be not only bone pain but also deformation.
How Does A Vitamin D Deficiency Come About?
The self-synthesis of vitamin D depends on contact with UV-B radiation. Depending on the latitude, this radiation is present in the atmosphere with varying intensity and duration.
It includes both external and individual influencing factors:
- Climatic conditions (e.g., Heavy cloud cover)
- Air pollution
- Skin color (the darker, the more difficult)
- Chronic diseases (including liver or kidney)
What Should I Consider In Winter?
As a rule, however, your body has already stored enough vitamin D in the sunny half of the year, so you do not have to take further precautions. Nonetheless, we recommend spending time outdoors regularly, which goes a long way to keeping our vitamin D levels healthy. Research shows that people who spend more time indoors are more likely to suffer from a vitamin D deficiency than those who are active outdoors. And that was also true in the studies if they had applied UV protection to the skin.
You can continue to adjust your diet and eat the foods mentioned above (including fatty sea fish) more often with a higher vitamin D content. Depending on the extent of the deficiency, however, it is possible that this measure alone cannot help you to achieve a healthy value.
If you happened to be planning a vacation to more southern latitudes during the winter months, your body would appreciate the extra opportunity for vitamin D synthesis. However, a medically recommended dietary supplement is usually the best way to achieve a healthy level.