If you are like me, and you live in a temperate climate, you are secretly cursing the fact that it’s pitch black outside for your 5:30 a.m. wake-up and you can’t really wear your Havaiana’s anymore. That’s right my fellow far north/south of the equator dwellers, old man winter is coming. Aside from the fact that I will have to wear at least 2-3 layers of clothing just to walk a block to the health food store, winter brings another scary reality; no more suntan. And I don’t mean this in vain! I mean no more UV’s which means no more Vitamin D. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is responsible for assisting our bodies in maintaining normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Both are responsible for our bone health. Vitamin D also helps to boost our cardiovascular system, neuromuscular system, and immune system.
Where do you get this miracle vitamin?! You already have it! Well, kind of. Here is the short version: In the summer months, when you are strolling along in the park, UVB rays from the sun hit your skin and turn dehydrocholesterol into cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3). Viola! How much D3 is produced is up to time of exposure, strength of UVB rays, shading, etc but even just ten minutes of prime time sun will pump out a lot of D3. And lucky for us, we can store it in our liver and fat for later use (like when there is NO sun in the winter).
But what about those long, long, LONG Canadian winters? You won’t make any D3. You won’t. Period. As Dr. Greiger said in one of his lectures “You could lay naked in the park in the middle of January and you won’t get enough D3″ Why? Because you should be Hawaii! Or rather because the Sun’s rays are not penetrating the Earth at the proper angle. But you NEED D3! The effects of deficiency can be crippling. Chronic fatigue, depression, headaches, weight gain poor concentration, and poor sleep are just the start. If you are Vegan, and aren’t drinking/consuming fortified foods, you’re not getting any so supplementation is key.
What to do? Certain fungi produce D2 (Ergocalciferol) which is an option. Bear in mind you will have to take TONS of the stuff for it to be effective as it is not equivalent in effect to it’s counterpart D3. But doesn’t D3 come from animals?! Yes and no. Most supplements are derived from sheep lanolin, in fact almost all D3 are as it is standard protocol. But have no fear! You can get vegan D3 derived from Lichens (who knew?!) There are a few brands who provide this awesomeness (one is here!) 1,000IU a day is a good start. It’s worth it to get your levels checked in the winter months by your doctor to see if you need to take more.
So stay warm and make sure you are getting your D on this winter!