Why Lack Of Vitamin D In The Winter Poses A Serious Threat To Your Health

Between diets that lack the appropriate nutrients to the inability to store certain vitamins in the body, getting the recommended daily dose of all the essential nutrients one needs can be a difficult task. Some vitamins, such as vitamin D, are especially important for overall health. Since the vitamin’s primary source is sunshine, the winter months pose an increased risk of deficiency.  

Getting vitamin D the old-fashioned way is hindered for much of the winter season because there are less hours of sunlight, and less sunshine during cold and cloudy winter days. There’s also the common desire to avoid the cold by staying indoors much more than one might in the summer time. But how dangerous is a vitamin D deficiency, particularly in the colder months? Here’s why lack of vitamin D in the winter poses a serious threat to your health.

What is vitamin D and what does it do for the body?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient. It is fat-soluble, which means it is synthesized within the body when the skin absorbs the sun’s rays, and then stored in fatty tissues. The nutrient is also absorbed into the body through food. Since it acts as both a vitamin and a steroid hormone, it is important for a variety of different processes throughout the body. One of the most important processes is calcium and phosphorous absorption, which helps with bone health. 

Vitamin D also plays a vital role in the function of the immune system, as it acts as both an immune system regulator and moderator. It is a nutrient that the immune system relies on to ensure that the response to pathogens is initiated properly to avoid infection and illness.

Other studies have found that vitamin D has exceptional disease-fighting abilities. It can help to decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and multiple sclerosis, and can even prevent the development of the flu. The essential nutrient also plays a role in mood regulation and has been known to reduce symptoms of depression.

Vital RX - vitamin D
Image by Pexels on Pixabay: How to get vitamin D in winter? Get outside, even though it’s cold out.

What does it mean if you’re lacking vitamin D?

If you don’t get enough vitamin D in your system, your body becomes deficient and many of the processes that rely on the nutrient may begin to malfunction. There are many reasons that one may lack vitamin D. The amount needed will vary slightly from person to person, but there are daily recommended amounts based on age that most people should adhere to. For people aged nine and over, anywhere from 600 IU/day up to 4000 IU/day is recommended. The upper level intake is the highest amount of the vitamin that can be taken without adverse health effects.

Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by certain health conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease. These diseases can cause the intestines to have difficulties absorbing the nutrient if it is taken as a supplement. Weight loss surgeries, obesity, and kidney and liver diseases can also play a role in vitamin D deficiency. The body’s ability to make vitamin D also decreases with age, and those who are less mobile and thus spend less time outside all year round can also suffer from vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency symptoms

If vitamin D deficiency becomes severe it can cause rickets – a bone problem that affects mostly children and leads to bones that are easily bendable, breakable, and painful. Rickets can develop in adults, where it is referred to as osteomalacia. These conditions occur only in the most serious of vitamin D deficiency cases.

For those who are lacking in this essential nutrient but not yet suffering the most severe consequences, symptoms may appear to be mild in nature and include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Bone pain
  • Muscle weakness, cramps, or aches
  • Depression and other mood changes
  • Frequent infections
  • Back pain
  • Wounds that don’t heal properly or are slow to heal
  • Bone loss
  • Hair loss

About one billion people in the world are suspected to be deficient in vitamin D, and it is one of the most commonly found nutritional deficiencies worldwide.

How to get vitamin D in winter

Getting vitamin D in winter can be tricky. Since people spend less time outdoors, the chances of a deficiency in winter are greater, thus more vitamin D may need to be introduced through other means during those cold months. A great way to keep vitamin D levels up naturally in the winter is by getting outside as much as possible. Even if it’s cold out, if the sun is shining, your body can still absorb the rays and synthesize vitamin D.

Another great way to get more vitamin D in the winter months is through diet. The best food options to get as much vitamin D as possible include:

  • Pork
  • Mushrooms
  • Fatty fish such as mackerel, oysters, shrimp, and tuna
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Vitamin D-enriched foods such as orange juice, cereal, soy milk, and yogurt
Vital RX - mushrooms
Image by Cocoparisienne on Pixabay: Mushrooms are an excellent dietary option to get more vitamin D in the winter.

You may also want to increase your intake along with your enriched diet with vitamin D supplementation. If you believe your vitamin D levels are severely low, getting a blood test with your primary care physician can let you know just how much you need to restore yourself to adequate levels. They may opt for a prescription supplement of vitamin D or recommend a good over-the-counter supplement.

Getting enough vitamin D in the winter may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. In the winter months, it is especially important to have enough of the nutrient because it can help ward off infection and chronic disease. As the winter season is typically flu and cold season, you’ll want to avoid getting sick as best you can with adequate levels of vitamin D.

Featured image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

What’s The Story Behind Vitamin D And COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been circulating the globe for over a year now. The death toll has reached over 2 million, and over 50 million have contracted the virus. With cases continuing to rise, the general public has been looking for ways to help prevent the spread and transmission of COVID.

A dangerous amount of false information has been circulating about the prevention of COVID-19 and the ways we can keep ourselves safe. Some outlandish claims that have been made with no basis in fact have included the use of colloidal silver, plant-based elixirs, and ultraviolet lamps. This misinformation has led to people believing that they could avoid getting the virus if they bought certain products.

One new health claim making the rounds is the connection between vitamin D and COVID-19. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and steroid hormone that can be absorbed into the body through sunlight and some foods. It is needed for bone health, the metabolization of both phosphorous and calcium, and mood regulation. But can it help prevent COVID-19?

Is vitamin D important for the immune system?

There are many health benefits of vitamin D because it plays a role in so many different bodily processes. One such system that relies heavily on having enough vitamin D is the immune system. Research has shown that the nutrient is essential when it comes to fighting off infection and boosting the function of the immune system. This is because it can act as an immune system regulator and initiator.

Studies have also found a direct connection between Vitamin D and the function of immune cells. The findings state that since immune cells have an expressed vitamin D receptor, it is required for them to be able to signal properly. It also plays a vital role in the modulation of both the innate and acquired immune systems.

Vital RX - masks
Image by Ismael Paramo on Unsplash: Safety measures such as wearing a mask are important to prevent COVID-19, but vitamin D can help when it comes to the severity of the infection.

Does vitamin D protect against COVID-19?

Information regarding vitamin D and COVID-19 is promising, but there is no evidence or information demonstrating that the nutrient can protect against COVID-19. There is currently no cure for the virus and the immune system is the main defender when it comes to recovering from a COVID-19 infection. The only true way to protect oneself against contracting the virus is by following the appropriate safety measures.

These measures will be different depending on your local government and health official regulations, but the mainstays include wearing a mask in areas where you will be in close contact with people; social distancing by way of keeping at least six feet between yourself and another person; and avoiding contact with those who have an active case or symptoms of the infection. You should also be practicing good handwashing and sanitization techniques and avoiding touching your face.

What’s the connection between vitamin D and COVID-19?

Since the immune system relies heavily on vitamin D to ensure that it is functioning properly – and since it’s the only line of defense against the COVID-19 virus – it’s clear that there is a connection between Vitamin D and coronavirus. Without adequate levels of vitamin D, the immune system will not function at its best, and if it doesn’t work properly, the body may have a more difficult time fighting off the virus.

Research has found that having at least 30 ng/mL of vitamin D in the blood led to those hospitalized to have less adverse outcomes and a better fighting chance against the infection. The particular study looked at 235 patients with COVID-19 and found that patients over the age of 40 were more likely to experience milder symptoms if they had adequate levels of the nutrient compared to those who were low or deficient. With a lessened chance of hypoxia and death, vitamin D is looking promising as a way to keep the body healthy in the wake of COVID-19.

Does vitamin D deficiency increase the severity of COVID-19?

Being deficient in vitamin D can lead to several chronic health conditions including diabetes, glucose intolerance, and hypertension. A vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to the increased risk of developing certain viral diseases as well as the increased susceptibility of getting frequent infections.

Other possible health conditions that can arise due to a vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Development of some cancers including prostate, colon, and breast cancer
Vital RX - supplement
Image by Michele Blackwell on Unsplash: Vitamin D deficiency is dangerous for your health, so if you can’t get enough through diet and sunshine alone, supplementation is necessary.

The connection between COVID and vitamin D deficiency has been clear in recent studies, which show that not having enough of the nutrient can lead to a heightened risk of developing a more severe case of the virus. One particular study looked at 216 patients with COVID-19 who were hospitalized because of the condition and found that out of the 216, over 80% were deficient in the sunshine vitamin.

In the people with lower levels of vitamin D, high inflammatory markers were also found, and longer hospital stays were also discovered to be a connection between low vitamin D levels and COVID-19 patients.

There is no cure for COVID-19. There are anti-viral medications that can control it, but for the most part when it comes to viruses, the immune system has to fight the battle on its own. Vitamin D is not a cure, nor is it a treatment option for those with severe cases of COVID-19; however, recent promising research shows it could be a helpful assistant in both recovery and in the outcome of the infection.

Featured image by Ainsley Myles on Unsplash

The Importance Of Vitamin D3 In Immune Health

Immune health is a vital component of overall health. In fact, without the immune system functioning at its best, all other systems in the body would falter in the presence of pathogens that have made it through due to a lack of proper immune response. When the body is able to fight off infection properly, it leaves all the body’s other systems to do their respective jobs and maintain a consistent level of wellness.

Many vitamins play a role in immune health, but some are more important than others. For example, vitamin C is often hailed as a great immune booster, but it’s not the be-all-end-all when it comes to keeping immune function running as it should. Vitamin D3 is one such vitamin that is a great immune assistant, but doesn’t get talked about as often as it should when it comes to the vitamins that keep the body’s defenses up to par.

What is the role of vitamin D in the immune system?

Vitamin D has a direct role to play in bone homeostasis and the way the body absorbs calcium, but that’s not the only thing it can do. Studies have shown that the nutrient can also help regulate both the innate and adaptive immune responses in the body by acting as an autocrine signaler for B and T cells and antigen-presenting cells.  

When it comes to protective immunity, vitamin D has been shown to be a great assistant. Prior to the use of antibiotics on tuberculosis, some patients were seeing great improvements in their conditions after exposure to sunlight. Doctors had assumed that sunlight killed TB; however, it is now thought that the increase in vitamin D levels was the catalyst for healing.

It has also been found that a deficiency in vitamin D can lead to increased risk for developing autoimmunity, the process that occurs when the body signals an immune response to its own cells that pose no threat. Not having enough vitamin D can also lead to a higher risk of frequent infections. 

Vital RX - bone health
Image by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash: Vitamin D is especially important in bone health because of its ability to increase calcium and phosphorous absorption.

What are the benefits of vitamin D?

Vitamin D isn’t just good for bone health and the immune system. According to studies, the vitamin can actually help ward off further diseases, including decreasing the risk of developing heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and the flu. It has also been shown to help fibromyalgia patients manage their symptoms.

Those who suffer from depression may also see an improvement in their symptoms if they increase their levels of vitamin D. Research has shown that the nutrient acts as a mood regulator, and that those who took vitamin D supplements during treatment for their mental illness saw a higher reduction in negative symptoms than those who did not. Vitamin D deficiency is also common in those who suffer from anxiety.

Another novel benefit of vitamin D is weight loss. One study found that weight loss group participants were able to see a larger reduction in weight when they added both calcium and vitamin D supplements to their regimen. It was suggested that this is because the supplements acted as appetite suppressants, leading to less consumed calories and more weight lost.

Does vitamin D help with illness?

As mentioned above, vitamin D holds a myriad of different health benefits when it comes to illnesses such as declining mental health, heart disease, and the common flu. This is due to its ability to help activate immune markers and keep the body free of pathogens.

In the current state of the COVID-era world, ensuring the body has enough vitamin D has never been more important, primarily due to its ability to keep the immune response functioning as it should. In terms of common illnesses such as colds and flu, many studies have evidenced the role of vitamin D as both a preventative method as well as a treatment. Other chronic health issues could also benefit from vitamin D, including heart disease, certain cancers, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes.

How much vitamin D should I take for immune system health?

The amount of vitamin D you take for your immune system will be entirely dependent on your current levels. It’s always important to assess how much you need prior to beginning a new supplementation plan. That being said, there are general amounts that can be taken to ensure that you’re getting enough and not becoming vitamin D deficient.

For adults, between 600 to 800 IU per day should be an adequate amount, whereas children would need between 400 and 600 IU per day. Those deficient in the nutrient may need to begin with more supplementation to return to healthy levels. For people with bone health disorders, more vitamin D may be needed to ensure that calcium and phosphorous are being absorbed thoroughly enough to manage symptoms.

Vital RX - cold and flu
Image by Brittany Colette on Unsplash: Vitamin D can help ward off common illnesses such as the cold and flu.

The Immune Health Subscription Box

The Vital RX Immune Health Subscription Box is equipped with high-quality ingredients to help ensure your immune health stays up to par throughout the winter months and all year round. The inclusion of Vitamin D3 in the Immune Health box was carefully considered by our team of doctors to give the immune system the extra boost it needs.

Vitamin D is a vital component to overall bone and immune health, and can even keep infection and chronic illness at bay. The best way to avoid deficiency is by ensuring you get the recommended daily dosage every single day.

Featured image by Jude Beck on Unsplash