The Key to Staying Healthy in the Colder Months
"Over half of the people in the U.S. are vitamin D deficient all year, and this time of the year it’s probably 70%."
For many of us outside southern California, it’s still pretty cold outside! So today, Dr. Nancy Lin, holistic nutritionist, is here to show us how to bring a little California to Boston, or Toronto, or wherever we are experiencing cooler temperatures.
- 02:18: The Negative Effects of Cold Weather
- 06:39: Why You Get Less Vitamin D in Some Regions
- 07:53: Vitamin D and It’s Sources
- 11:19: What Vitamin D Does in the Body
- 15:05: Getting Enough Vitamin D
The Negative Effects of Cold Weather
We realize for those of you who don’t live in the sub-tropics, winter is still in full force. And as we get toward the end of winter and into early spring, it can be a tough time for many of us. This is a time of year when people often battle with depression, are less active, and are more often sick — especially this year with all the viruses going around.
If any of this describes you, you’re not alone. But there are reasons you feel that way at this time of the year, and steps you can take to make things better (without having to book a flight to Barbados).
It has to do with new Vitamin D research that is now showing us that it is much more difficult than previously thought to naturally produce meaningful vitamin D, which you need for good health, in most of the country and world, at this time of year. Between November and April, if you live above or below the 37th parallel, you’ve probably got serious Vitamin D issues. What’s that? Take a look at this map:
The 37th parallels are equal points on either side of the equator — and what we now know is that where you live, especially above or below those lines, has a direct impact on how much vitamin D your body is able to produce.
If you’re in the U.S., this includes people who live north of Los Angeles or St. Louis or Richmond, Virginia for example — you simply can’t get enough Vitamin D from the Sun between November and April in these areas.
Why You Get Less Vitamin D in Some Regions
There is only a sufficient amount of UV light coming from the sun when the UV index is 3 or higher, which only occurs year-round near the equator and between the 37th parallels. Above or below the 37th parallels — were most of us live — the sun is just too low in the sky for you to absorb enough UV rays to produce the vitamin D you need. In fact, you could lay out naked all day in March and still not absorb enough UV light to produce the vitamin D that you need (but we don’t suggest you try that).
Vitamin D and Its Sources
We’ve talked about Vitamin D before, so you may remember that Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient; it’s also one of the 24 micronutrients critical for human survival. The sun is the major natural source of the nutrient, but vitamin D is also found naturally in some foods. However, it’s really difficult to get enough vitamin D from food each day, especially if you’re looking at hitting the therapeutic level of Vitamin D nutritionists suggest are necessary at this time of year.
For example: eggs are a source of vitamin D, but one egg contains roughly 40 IUs (about 5% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D) so if you want to get your minimum vitamin D from food, you’d need to eat about 20 eggs a day! And that is just to get to the Recommended Daily Allowance, which is not the therapeutic level we’re talking about today.
Many studies suggest that a therapeutic daily intake of over 5,000 IU is what we need at this time of year So that 20 eggs per day just became about 125 eggs per day — Yikes!
Now, don’t get us wrong… we do encourage eating a good balanced anti-inflammatory diet that includes a variety of more vitamin-D rich foods like organic broccoli, wild salmon, and fresh, organic cremini mushrooms. Doing this does help, but you also need to supplement, and most daily multivitamins only provide between 400 and 800 IUs of Vitamin D. You need much more than that this time of year.
What Vitamin D Does in the Body
Earlier we mentioned Vitamin D is critical for our survival — that’s because it has multiple roles in the body. It assists in:
- Supporting immune, brain, and nervous system health
- Supporting a healthy mood
- Improving mental clarity, cognition, and reduced brain fog
- Promoting healthy bones and teeth
- Regulating insulin levels and supporting diabetes management
- Supporting lung function and cardiovascular health
And in multiple studies, when Vitamin D was consumed in large enough quantities — often up to 50,000 IU per day — it showed promise to support health for people suffering from certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes and even multiple sclerosis.
People deficient in vitamin D also experience lower testosterone levels and lower levels of muscle mass.
A vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with weight gain. Now, consider this — over half of the people in the U.S. are vitamin D deficient all year, and this time of the year it’s probably 70%. Nearly 70% of the population is also considered obese or overweight. Studies are showing a direct correlation between being overweight or obese and having a vitamin D deficiency — more specifically it’s a Vitamin D3 deficiency.
Other key symptoms of a vitamin D3 deficiency might include low energy, fatigue, chronic inflammation, muscle and joint pain, and a weakened immune system.
Getting Enough Vitamin D
Since it’s really difficult to get enough Vitamin D from sunshine or food alone at this time of year, you need a good plant-based Vitamin D supplement. And making sure it’s plant-based is really, really important! That’s because 99% of theVitamin D in stores is animal-based, and it comes from really nasty stuff — namely the oily ooze excreted from the glands of sheep. Pretty disgusting, right? So stick with plant-based. It’s also very important that you find a formula that combines both plant-based Vitamin D3 with another important vitamin: Vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 supports bone health by modifying osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone formation. This modification enables osteocalcin to bind to minerals in bones and helps prevent the loss of calcium from bone, making them stronger over time.
Having healthy Vitamin D levels does more than support a healthy immune system; it also directly affects the health and expression of over 2000 genes in your body! And we’re learning more about the amazing new health benefits of Vitamin D every day. It has so many important functions; one of the most vital is for proper calcium absorption to maintain healthy bones and teeth, which is especially important as we age. Other critical functions it provides include supporting a healthy:
- Mood and Sense of Mental Wellbeing
- Cardiovascular Function
- Muscle Function
- Joint Support
- Cardiovascular Function
- Respiratory System
- Brain Function
Because of this, it is absolutely essential for you to supplement each day. There is only one Vitamin D3 supplement we recommend (the one Dr. Nancy herself takes), which is Smarter Nutrition’s Plant-Based Vitamin D3+K2.
Smarter Nutrition’s Vitamin D3 is not chemically processed, and it comes from the most premium plant source of active Vitamin D3. It’s sustainably sourced from nutrient-rich green plants, and is naturally-free from contaminants and undesirable animal by-products.
It’s also encapsulated in vegetarian soft gels. It’s the best out there, with organic extra virgin coconut oil for faster, more efficient and complete absorption.
So, let's review why supplementing with Smarter Nutrition’s Vitamin D3 is so important — remember, new research is showing that most of us are not getting the vitamin D we need from food or from the sun, meaning we are at an increased risk for a number of serious health issues, including: issues with our bones and joints, nervous system, mental health, and our immune system. Being deficient in Vitamin D also increases our risk of inflammation, heart disease, weight gain, and a host of other serious medical conditions, so it really is one of the most important supplements that we need to take every single day in the winter and spring.
We recommend taking our plant-based Smarter Nutrition Vitamin D supplement with vitamin K2 — it’s simply better quality than anything else out there, clean and pure, with no binders or fillers. It’s key to staying healthy in the darker, colder months!