Me and my vitamin D levels

I have to say, I do love my job as a TV floor manager. I get to meet all sorts of brilliant people and every week I am somewhere different. But, as with all things in life, where there is a positive, there is always a negative lurking somewhere.

My negative, is the serious lack of daylight that comes from being locked in a TV studio with no windows for up to 14 hours a day. Just last week, I spent eight consecutive long days in studio, working on the blind auditions for The Voice. It was a great eight days, but it was eight days without actual daylight, and boy did I notice a change in my wellbeing.

I’m sure many of you, as we approach winter are probably feeling the change in your wellbeing too.

As the season changes and the nights draw in, we are exposing ourselves to less and less sunlight which means our bodies are not producing enough vitamin D (….and for you lucky ones that do actually have windows in your workspace, don’t be fooled in to thinking that you are OK for vitamin D, as the rays of natural sunlight that produce vitamin D in your skin cannot penetrate glass).

On the first few days of recording the show, I was bouncing with energy. I love working on the show; the set is amazing, the showbiz lights are beautiful and of course, the singers are always out of this world.

After the 4th or 5th day though I started to flag. I thought perhaps I needed to drink some water, as I am terrible about consuming the recommended 2 litres of water a day; but no mount of guzzling boosted my energy. I felt sluggish, low and on the verge of a cold. Then my colleagues mentioned that all I probably needed was a good boost of vitamin D…the ‘sunshine vitamin’ that helps keep your immune system strong so that you are able to fight off  viruses and bacteria that cause illness.

I left the studio immediately and sat outside in the fresh air for 20 minutes.

I did perk up a bit, but it got me thinking about my body and how I have deprived it of this important vitamin for 20 years, working in the TV industry. Could this have been one of the factors that hindered my natural ability to have children?

I thought the best place to turn to for answers was a company that actually  makes this incredible vitamin for people who need that extra boost, so we spoke with Nu U Nutrition who develop and market cutting edge nutrition products.

So what is vitamin D and why do our bodies need it?

Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body.

These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.

How much exposure to sunlight do we need?

Having optimal vitamin D levels depends on your skin’s ability to produce enough when you’re exposed to the sun. Those with darker skins naturally produce less vitamin D, as the melanin in their skin naturally provides more protection against UV rays. This means those with darker skins must spend more time in the sun than those with lighter skins to get adequate amounts. This also applies to the following:

  • Office workers who spend most of their days inside
  • People who cover up for religious purposes
  • People who work night shifts and sleep during the day
  • Anyone whose lifestyle prevents them from getting outside regularly

One study showed that nurses who had worked night shifts for over 20 years had a higher incidence of wrist and hip fractures over an 8-year follow up period. The overwhelming evidence prompted the researchers to link the nurses’ lack of sun exposure and therefore vitamin D levels with a reduction in bone and muscle strength.

In the winter, when there really isn’t much sunlight, are we putting our bodies in danger?

It’s often called the sunshine vitamin because, unlike other nutrients, vitamin D is not provided by food but made when our skin is exposed to the sun. But, given the summer that the UK has had, for example, added to the classic dull British weather faced year round, Brits are dangerously deficient in this crucial vitamin. In fact, it’s estimated that a staggering one in five adults and one in six children do not have adequate levels of vitamin D and this deficiency increases in the winter months as we spend more time inside and are not exposed to sunlight, which is why it is so important to take a supplement.

What are the signs that we are lacking in Vitamin D?

Tiredness, joint pains or weak bones, muscles hurting, depression (especially in winter) and getting frequent infections,

Can we ask our doctor for a test to see if we are lacking?

Your GP can test your vitamin D levels or you can buy a very simple to use home testing kit.

There are always so many conflicting studies when it comes to supplements and their link to infertility. Is there a proven link between a lack of vitamin D and infertility?

There are many encouraging studies like the one carried out in Italy that claims that women who do not have enough vitamin D are only half as likely to get pregnant as women who have the right amount. (A big claim to make!) They tested 300 women who had IVF treatment and saw a big difference in pregnancy rates between women who had enough vitamin D and those who didn’t. They believe that vitamin D helps women to produce higher quality embryos too.

However, despite the fact that there have been many observational studies that have suggested that a vitamin D deficiency might be important for hormone disturbances, including fertility in women as well as men, studies are sparse, so it is difficult to give a definite answer and to say that increasing your vitamin D levels will improve your fertility.

Although there is no official proven answer, the data that exists does suggest that there is a role for vitamin D when trying to conceive. Where you can help it, make sure that your body is of optimum health and not deficient in anything.

Do we need to take supplements all year round?

Unless we do get the necessary sunlight every day and also eat vitamin D rich foods, then it would be wise for the wider population to take a supplement year-round. Those from colder climates are advised to take it on a daily basis.

Do we take these supplements in addition to eating foods high in vitamin D?

Yes, certainly, alongside foods such as such as:

  • oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and fresh tuna
  • red meat
  • liver
  • egg yolks
  • fortified foods – such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereal

Thank you so much for answering our questions and if you feel that you need a vitamin D boost, click here

1 Comment
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