Now that we’re well into the cooler, wetter seasons and shorter days (especially after the awful summer we just had), one thing that you can easily become deficient in is vitamin D.
Ideally, we absorb our vitamin D through our skin being exposed outside in the sun, however, in winter with the wet weather and wrapping up warmly it is much more difficult to do this, particularly on a regular basis.
In supplemental form, vitamin D is available in two different forms – D2 and D3. Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, is made from plants and often added to fortify mass produced food such as breakfast cereal, orange juice, some dairy products, plant milks like soy milk and dairy free spreads. Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol is found naturally occurring in food such as cod liver oil, oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines), liver and egg yolk. When in supplement form, vitamin D3 is usually derived from lanolin in sheep wool or fish oil.
By far, studies show that vitamin D3 is superior in that it raises blood levels of vitamin D higher, faster and it sustains those levels for longer. If taking supplemental vitamin D, always make sure that you are taking the natural form, vitamin D3, and pair it with vitamin K2 and a fat source. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it needs fat in order to be absorbed efficiently in the body, and the vitamin K2 works synergistically with the vitamin D to help ensure that calcium is absorbed into the bones and teeth rather than getting deposited in the arterial walls. Vitamin D forms osteocalcin in the body (the protein that stores calcium in the bones) but only vitamin K2 can activate it, so it’s essential that you take both of these vitamins simultaneously. Always make sure you take this supplement with a meal that contains fat, or at least in addition to a fish oil supplement to aid absorption.
The benefits of vitamin D include growth, health and development of bones and teeth (including aiding in remineralising teeth that are deteriorating), immune system support and disease prevention, reducing inflammation in the body, regulating mood and preventing depression and anxiety. Some symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include tiredness, bone or muscle pain and weakness, stress fractures and seasonal depression. If you would like to test your vitamin D levels, speak to your GP about a blood test – you may be required to pay for this test, however it will give you a good indication of whether you need to add a supplement to your daily routine. After beginning supplementation, it’s generally, a good idea to retest blood levels of vitamin D three months later and then you can adjust your
dose if need be.