Everything seems to slow down in winter. As it gets colder outside and the days get shorter, plants slow down their growth and animals bed down to hibernate. During winter time, we human also tend to spend more time indoors. But there is one big problem with this…
We adore the indoors
In the 21st century, most people spend a lot of time indoors during the summer, working at a desk or in a facility. This, however, is not such a natural thing. During the majority of human evolution, we spent the summer out in the sun, hunting, gathering or working in fields, and we were exposed to much more sunlight than nowadays.
During the majority of human evolution, we spent the summer out in the sun, hunting, gathering or working in fields
You’ve probably heard of the “sunny vitamin”, called Vitamin D. While we can get it through our normal diet, most of it is produced endogenously through multiple steps where sunlight exposure to the skin fuels one of the key actions. But depending on the latitude, the sunlight may not be intense enough to fuel those processes during winter time¹. That’s why humans and animals are able to store Vitamin D in their liver, providing enough of this essential nutrient until the days get longer again. But if we spend our summer days indoors, our supplies will not be maxed out going into the winter.
We’re missing more than sunny days
Vitamin D has a long list of well-established benefits, from bone health, to cardiovascular health, and even cognitive performance. However, the key benefit of Vitamin D is its support of the immune system².
New research also indicates that lower blood levels of this nutrient may also correlate with depressive symptoms which could one of the reasons why some of us can experience a bad mood or depression during winter months³.
…too much of a good thing can be bad.
Vitamin D Supplementation is a safe and effective way to make up for the amount you’re not getting indoors⁴. However, too much of a good thing can be bad. Excessive amounts of Vitamin D can lead to side effects like calcification of the arteries and kidney stones¹. This is why you should know your levels and supplement according to that.
- 1. Aloia, John F., et al. “Vitamin D intake to attain a desired serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87.6 (2008): 1952–1958.