Should You Be Supplementing Vitamin D? My Personal Experience.

I'm writing this post because some of my family have been diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, with one family member having extremely low levels.

If you live in a country where you don't get much sun during the winter, you might be feeling sluggish and moody during the cold half of the year. And might be chalking it up to things like spending so much time indoors, the cold and the darkness. But actually a lot of people living in the higher latitudes are deficient in Vitamin D -- this paper suggests 41,6% of people in the US. And double that number of black people  -- research shows that the more melanin your skin has, the less it absorbs the ultraviolet radiation that is needed to synthesize vitamin D.

The most common symptom of Vit D deficiency is lethargy and a grey mood. But others are harder to catch, like pain in the bones, nausea, dizziness, headaches, skin issues and a sluggish immune system (vit D deficiency is linked with respiratory diseases). These symptoms that are so common that they often get chalked up to other issues. The only tell is that you feel better in the summer, when your vitamin D tank is full again. 

Fortunately it's really easy to check if your are deficient -- it's a simple blood test, in Germany it costs around 20€.  My doctor recommended I test my vitamin D levels twice: once in the spring and once in the autumn. My levels in the autumn were good, meaning that my skin could produce it without problems, however the levels in the spring were abysmal.

I have heard a lot of myths about Vitamin D and getting enough sun. Here are two:

  • Going without sunscreen in the summer won't help with your vitamin D levels in the winter. The body stores vitamin D for only two months. Also, sun-burnt skin doesn't produce vit D as well as healthy skin does, so don't skimp on the sunscreen.
  • If you are going out into the sun in the winter, it's might seem as if it's easy to get your Vit D. However many people have a hard time producing vit D, for reasons not really well known. I've heard theories that the low angle of the sun in the winter means that the "quality" of the light is not just the same as in the summer. Low levels of calcium in the bones may also be responsible.

In my case my doctor recommended I start supplementing vitamin D starting every September, and continue till the days get sunny in the spring. She recommended Vigantol tablet, and that is what I and my family have had really good results with. It's suitable for both adults and kids. I feel better physically and mentally than I used to in the winter. Of course I make sure I go out and get some sun as well, but in the winter months we get weeks where the clouds and the fog obscure the sun completely, or it's too cold to expose naked skin for more than a couple of minutes.

I hope this has been useful for someone. Have a great day, and a sunny winter.

Photo by Nicolas Solerieu on Unsplash

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