As Winter Approaches, less sunlight = less Vitamin D!

Posted by Phil Heler, MD on November 2, 2018

As Winter Approaches, less sunlight = less Vitamin D!

As Winter Approaches in Buxton, Less Sunshine = Less Vitamin D! A vitamin is an organic substance that the body cannot synthesise (or does not have enough of like Vitamin D) and is essential to normal metabolism. Broadly speaking there are 13 known vitamins which are either water-soluble or fat-soluble. Obviously, fat-soluble vitamins are easier for the body to store than water-soluble. Vitamins A, D and E are fat soluble

What is Vitamin D?

Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D functions like a hormone, and every single cell in your body has a receptor for it. Your body makes it from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight. The recommended daily intake (RDI) is usually around 400–800 IU, but many experts say you should get even more than that.

All vitamins are of course present in minute amounts in natural foodstuffs. Vitamin D is found in certain foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products, though it’s very difficult to get enough from diet alone so we require another source.

Vitamin D and Sunlight

Most of us know about Vitamin D and its relationship with sunlight as this has been a recent health concern that has been well publicised. Only under the presence of UV light can the human body endogenously synthesize enough for what it needs.

What you may not know is that vitamin D that is obtained from sun exposure, food, and supplements is completely biologically inert.  It must undergo two chemical pathways in the body for activation to be useful. The first stage occurs in the liver and converts vitamin D to a substance known as calcidiol. The second occurs primarily in the kidney and forms the physiologically active substance called calcitriol.

How much sunlight do we get in Buxton, and is it enough?

Well, that wasn’t an issue in 2018 with over 250 hours of sunshine each month in May, June and July. This 750 hours of sunshine was roughly 75% of what we received for the whole of 2017. In fact, in November (49 hours), December (30 hours) 2017 and January (24 hours) 2018 we only had 93 hours of sunshine in total as it was a hard winter. Appreciated is the fact that in winter we do of course have short days. This winter especially was perpetuated, and I do wonder how replete we all were in Vitamin D at this point in time!

Who’s at Risk

Interestingly a study in the U.S in 2011 found 41.6% of adults are deficient. This number goes up to 69.2% in Hispanics and 82.1% in African-Americans. So, the darker your skin, the more likely you are to be deficient. The more elderly you are the less likely you are to go out. The can be exacerbated by not eating much fish and dairy and staying indoors (which we tend to do in winter!!)

8 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Here are 8 signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.

  • Getting ill or getting infections often
  • Fatigue and tiredness, (Feeling tired can have many causes, and vitamin D deficiency may be one of them)
  • Bone and back pain
  • Depression
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Bone density Loss
  • Hair loss.
Posted by Phil Heler, MD