could this one nutrient hold the key to a more upbeat winter?

Single nutrients rarely have transformative power, except from this one crucial one. We enlisted the help of BANT registered nutritionist Eva Humphries to give us the low down on one essential nutrient that may help to beat the winter blues.

Let’s put this out in the open – many of us struggle more with motivation and energy during the winter months. The nights are longer, the daylight hours are limited and pretty much everything is telling us to curl up in a ball and wait it out until the sun returns to the sky full time.

Luckily, there is one nutrient that may actually help to banish those winter blues, lift our mood, and even give our immune system a helping hand. Let me (re)introduce you to our sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D.

Made by the skin in response to sunlight, this important nutrient is a crucial piece in our winter wellbeing puzzle. Vitamin D is used by the body for just about everything, with suboptimal levels associated with low mood, depression, fatigue, brittle bones, aching joints, slow recovery from injuries and low immunity, among many others. However we look at it, we need this vital nutrient, especially so during the winter months when every bug is seemingly out there to get us. 

This is where a curveball may be appearing. Vitamin D is made in response to sunlight reaching our skin, a limiting factor that is hardly synonymous with the British winter. Even if the sun did shine, Vitamin D is only available from the ball of fire in the sky between March and October and even then, only between the hours of 12pm and 2pm. Put simply, we go into a Vitamin D black hole during the winter months.

Historically, we would spend significantly longer outdoors, building up our Vitamin D levels over the summer months and putting them in storage for when it is in short supply during winter. Now, we remain largely indoors thanks to our office-based environments and rely on a two-week getaway, spent horizontally in a sunshine destination, to top up our Vitamin D levels. Except, there is another curveball. Sun cream may block the right ray of light needed to synthesise Vitamin D. Obviously forgoing the sun cream is not a great idea, so how do we balance this?

An area you may be considering is consuming Vitamin D-rich foods but unless you see yourself eating 4kg of mushrooms or 10 eggs every single day, then it may be a bit challenging to obtain the right quantity. Vitamin D is the only nutrient that doesn’t have a reliable food source. It is worth noting that some foods may be fortified with Vitamin D, but the relative quantity and quality remains low.

Our winter health really starts in summer. Getting into the habit of heading out for a 20-minute lunchtime walk may assist in building up Vitamin D levels when it is most available from the sun. Uncover your arms and let that solar power recharge you as you walk. Darker skin tones will likely benefit from longer sun exposure. 

In winter, supplementing with Vitamin D may be a good idea. Realistically, many of us are low on this important nutrient with Public Health England advocating the use of Vitamin D supplements during the darker months.

The supplement I recommend to my clients the most is BetterYou’s DLUX3000 Vitamin D spray. The liquid format means more of the Vitamin D is absorbed and it’s a simple formula to stick to.

Last but not least, if in doubt, get your Vitamin D levels checked, especially if you begin to feel low for no obvious reason. A simple GP blood test or an at home fingerpick test procured via vitamindtest.org.uk will shed some light on whether you need more of this mood lifting sunshine nutrient. 

  • Find out more about Eva and how she can help your nutritional needs at wholefoodwarrior.co.uk 

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