Winter is here so where will we get our Vitamin D from?

Generally known as the “sunshine vitamin”, our main source of Vitamin D is from the sun. It is needed in the body for healthy teeth and bones, but it also has links to other diseases such as mulitple sclerosis, depression, cancer, autism (lots of research is ongoing).

sunshine

Vitamin D is make via ultra violet (UV) light, and this type of light comes with health warnings during the summer months which is why we wear sun cream. There are 3 types of UV light: UVA, UVB and UVC.

UVB is the one which makes Vitamin D. During the winter months, the UK is at too higher latitude (above 35 degrees north of the equator) meaning only UVA hits the earth’s surface. There is insufficient UVB for the body to make Vitamin D during the winter months here in the UK.[1]

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means that it can be stored within the body (unlike water soluble vitamins such as B and C which cannot be stored and any excess will be excreted via the urine). Some people can store enough Vitamin D to last through the winter months without any problems.

However many people might be deficient in Vitamin D because they don’t go outside very much.  Examples include disease and illness forces them to stay indoors, they live a sedentary lifestyle watching TV for large proportions of the day, they work long hours in front of a computer, or they use so much sun block during the summer that their skin is not exposed to the UVB rays.

This is why a supplement is a good idea particularly over the winter months in the UK and other northern hemisphere countries. Combine the insufficient UVB and the little Vitamin D we get from our diets (oily fish and eggs) gives you a good reason to supplement.

In the UK the recommended amount is 400 international units (10 micrograms) a day for adults at risk of deficiency because of lack of sunlight. [1] But as we are all at risk of this during the winter months, my own opinion is to supplement daily.

Research data from the University of Aberdeen[1] suggests that Vitamin D status was higher for people who took sunny holidays abroad, and for those who were taking fish oils. The latter can be explained 2-fold: fish oils do contain small amounts of Vitamin D, and also fish oils are an essential fatty acid which optimises the body to store Vitamin D (remember Vitamin D is fat soluble).

Dr Mercola also suggests a Vitamin D supplement is optimised if taken alongside some healthy fat.[2] He also argues that 400IU is not enough and recommends a higher dose, however a study carried out by the University of Aberdeen showed that when the daily amount was increased from 400IU to 1000IU the marker of Vitamin D only increased by a small amount, revealing that the body is reluctant to increase to much higher levels.

It is important to remember that although you can take too much Vitamin D, there is a wide safety margin. So whether you decide to take 400IU or 1000IU or somewhere in between, it is generally a safe amount to take daily over the winter months.

As with all vitamins and minerals, they don’t work in isolation, which is why I use those formulated by Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic which are synergistic blends from plant sources surrounded by superior absorption capsules which are released within 15 minutes of entering the stomach.

Why not try the Multi Mineral and Vitamin Boost which is a synergistic blend of plant-sourced vitamins B, C, D and E and zinc. Combine with a healthy fat, such as the Organic Beauty Oil, Omega 3-6-9 or a teaspoon of coconut oil, or take a look at the Vitamin D supplement which is sourced from algae.

[1] FutureLearn course: Nutrition and Wellbeing University of Aberdeen http://www.futurelearn.com

[2] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/05/10/vitamin-d-recommended-dietary-allowance.aspx

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Feeling the burn? Be careful what you slap on

I think I’m safe in saying that we all look forward to the summer and the summer holidays.

The problem with the summer is the risk of sun damage to our skin, from prolonged exposure, burning and skin cancers.

We need to find a good balance between safe sun exposure for vitamin D production whilst simultaneously protecting us against skin cancer.

UV explained 

The sun’s UV (ultra violet) rays can be a danger. They both have strong links in the development of skin cancers. Here they are explained in a nutshell:

UVA: these rays penetrate deep into the skin and are strongly connected to premature aging. This is the predominant tanning ray.

UVB: these rays mostly affect the surface of the skin and cause reddening and sunburn.

The World Health Organisation have identified UV as a human carcinogen.

Which suncare product?

Firstly look for “Broad Spectrum”. This means that the product has been tested and guaranteed to provide both UVA and UVB protection.

The Neal’s Yard Remedies range is Broad Spectrum.

Many suncare products usually contain synthetic and potentially toxic chemicals e.g. sun filters, preservatives, colouring, perfume. Nano technology is often used too, however this means that these tiny particles are then absorbed by the body and can be harmful to the environment.

Neal’s Yard Remedies use a physical barrier as opposed to a chemical barrier. A certified non-nano form of zinc oxide is used, which is processed so that the particles become transparent. This allows the zinc to better cover and shield the skin while minimising the white cast that used to be a common trait of physical sunscreens.

A physical barrier is much better for us than a chemical barrier which can be absorbed through the skin and be toxic to the body.

Other suncare nasties are oxybenzone, octocrylene, honosalate, octonoxate, methylisothiazolinone, the latter a common preservative to which more than 10% of the population are allergic (Allergy UK).

Chemical suncare ingredients are linked to hormone disruption, skin allergies, and traces have even been found in mothers’ milk!

Neal’s Yard Remedies use natural mineral filters blended with deeply nourishing and organic shea butter, conditioning beeswax and moisturising oils of karanja and baobab, infused with cleansing lemongrass and soothing lavender essential oils (which are also naturally insect-repelling). Together they protect, nurture and moisturise the skin.

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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