Sunshine and vitamin D in the wintertime

It’s quite common to feel a little blue in the wintertime. The weather is cold and grey, and we often spend a lot more time indoors than we do during the warmer months. This can have an affect on our health and our mood.

One of the consequences of more time indoors is that we don’t get as much exposure to natural sunlight. Ideally, we would spend an hour or two of time in the sun every day (although making sure that we don’t get burned). That sunlight is what our bodies use to manufacture vitamin D. When we don’t get enough sunlight, our vitamin D levels drop. 

The thing is, vitamin D is really important to our health. A deficiency of vitamin D is associated with a number of health risks, including some cancers, heart disease and diabetes. In other words, we want to make sure we’re getting enough.

Especially applicable during the wintertime is vitamin D’s effect on mood. Getting enough sunshine and vitamin D is important not just for our physical health, but because it helps our brains produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps give us a sense of well-being. The less sunshine and vitamin D we get, the lower our levels of serotonin tend to be, and the more likely we are to feel depressed or blue. That’s why it’s so common for people to feel this way during the winter months.

Here are two steps to getting more vitamin D into your system.

    1.    Spend more time outdoors. This is as simple as it gets. In the summer it’s a no brainer, but even if it’s cold outside, make an commitment to spending more time in the sun. Bundle up and take a walk. Every little bit helps. Regular sun exposure (without getting burned!) is key to good health.
    2.    Supplement. There are lots of great vitamin D supplements available, in pill, capsule or liquid form (I recommend Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 vegan liquid, which I carry in my office). Find one you like, and take it every day, especially if you’re not getting sun exposure. It takes time for your vitamin D levels to build back up, so make sure to do this consistently.

Vitamin D is one of those basic building blocks of health. A little mindfulness is all you need in order to get enough.