Rain showers alternating with sunny spells. Spring leading us to summer… The coronavirus lockdown easing in most part of the western world… Yessssss, it’s officially time for us to start stocking up on Vitamin D! Almost half of adults in the US are vitamin D deficiency, and chances are you are too. Vitamin D is so good for so many things: essential for sleep and our immune system. It is good for our bones, muscles and teeth, as it helps absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. It has anti-inflammatory properties and very importantly, it helps support our ability to fight viruses, colds and other diseases. It helps us fight cancer. It is essential for our mental health for conditions such as depression and dementia.
So how does our body make Vitamin D naturally?
How much and when to take it ?
Vitamin D is considered a hormone mainly produced by our skin as a result of exposure to sunlight, but you can also get it from certain foods.
Vitamin D can help us obtain a peaceful slumber since it helps our body synthesize the sleep hormone melatonin. How does it work? Vitamin D activates the essential amino acid Tryptophan (in foods such as turkey, salmon, tuna, green leaves vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy, grains) which is then synthesized into serotonin, our happiness hormone, brilliant to treat with depression.
Serotonin then metabolizes into melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. Studies proved that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a higher risk of sleep disorders, so you should look into it if you struggle with sleep.
Not sure if you are low on vitamin D?
You can get a blood test done through your doctor or nutritionist to confirm either way.
The good news is that we can create our own vitamin D from exposure to sunlight reaching our skin, when we are outdoors. This would be most of the year if you live in California, but probably only from April until September if you live in the UK, France or Germany. 6 months of daily outdoor daylight exposure in the year should be enough to help us through the year. Of course, we should make sure to use sun protection to avoid sunburns or skin damage.
Interestingly, the darker your skin tone is, the more likely you are to suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, especially if you live in a country with limited sunlight.
The British NHS advises that "People with dark skin, such as those of African, African-Caribbean or south Asian origin, will need to spend longer in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as someone with lighter skin. Your body can't make vitamin D if you're sitting indoors by a sunny window because ultraviolet B (UVB) rays (the ones your body needs to make vitamin D) can't get through the glass. So it is best to get outside, especially since the coronavirus lockdown is easing in most countries and cities.
Vitamin D guidance and tips:
- Request a vitamin D blood test from your doctor
- Go outdoors every day even if it rains or is cloudy , for at least 30 minutes between the hours of 10am-4pm in winter and between the hours of 9am-5pm in the summer (wear sun protection)
- Absorb vitamin D from oily fish, red meat and eggs.
- It is also a possible to consume vitamin D as a supplement. Go for vitamin D3 which is almost 90% more effective than vitamin D2
- Eat your vitamin D supplement with a meal:
- in the morning, with your breakfast
- preferably alongside good "high fat" foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds
- Some reports suggest that taking vitamin D supplements in the evening may interfere with sleep, but there is no scientific data to back it up, so it is best to see how this impacts you
- Make sure not to take too much vitamin D as it can cause too much calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia). This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart. So no more than 100μg (micrograms) of vitamin D a day, as it could be harmful - 100 micrograms is equal to 0.1 milligrams.
If you need inspiration now to identify and tackle the things you can control head on and improve your sleep, continue reading our previous blog posts exploring “stimulus control” and “conditioning” to defeat insomnia. Click here
Stay safe & healthy! And stay tuned for our next blog post in a couple of weeks time, subscribe below and we will let you know each time a new post is ready. Take good care !
And don't worry if you change your mind later, just unsubscribe :-)
- The WeSleep Team –