skip to main content

Here in the North West we don’t get much sun as it is. But boy, when we get it do we worship it...

And boy do we love fake tan up here in Scouseland…

...and that’s just the lads.

But when winter rolls around we also know how to handle it. We’ve been here thousands of years and that Northern knowledge of the legendary Mersey chill is passed on from generation to generation.

But just lately there’s been a greater concern paid to our vitamin D intake and for good reason. In case you don’t know, vitamin D contains nutrients provided to us primarily by natural light (i.e. the sun) and 1 in 5 of us Brits have a deficiency. But it can be quite a subtle thing but the long-term effects of vitamin D deficiency can be quite serious. Some observe links to dementia, prostate cancer and schizophrenia and bone disorders and rickets but these are only in severe cases and can be hard to spot without looking for it.

So here’s nine of the main reasons you might be at risk of vitamin D deficiency:

Northern climate

We are where we are. Though we’re not quite on the same levels as Finland, Sweden and Norway, we’re not far off and it can feel pretty arctic sometimes.

What can I do about it?

As simple as it might sound...get outside. Even if it’s overcast, cloudy or pouring it down, expose yourself to natural light as often as you can. Brits see an average of 10 hours of sunlight A WEEK in the winter months...so let’s do something about that and embrace the cold! However... what if...

 

You really dislike cold weather

Yeah, who likes cold weather, right? However, if you absolutely feel a hatred in the bottom of your heart towards even the thought of heading out into the cold and would rather do anything else, then this might be your body trying to tell you something.

The fact is, like all seasons, there’s a lot of wonder to winter and if you’re struggling to get onboard, you might need to look into bringing those vitamin D levels up a shot.

What can I do about it?

Talk to your GP if you feel a really strong dislike for the winter. We know, it sounds strange but you never know and that’s what your GP is there for. They might offer medication that works for you. Don’t have a GP? We’ve got you covered. Put your postcode right in here.

 

You work in an office

If you’re a desk jockey, there’s a good chance you don’t see enough sun. And we’re not talking about the IT guy’s level of ‘working in an office’ at a desk all day...

Hundreds of thousands of us work behind desks. But the issue isn’t with working behind the desk itself. It’s more the amount of sunlight you’re exposed to. Even if you’re in a bright office with big windows and billowing streams of sun streaming through (when the mighty orange orb actually feels like showing its face), it’s still not the same as being outside unfiltered by windows.

What can I do about it?

Even if it’s overcast, a simple walk outside at lunchtime can do wonders for your mood, happiness and in turn, your vitamin D levels.

 

You have darker skin


People with darker skin produce a lot more melanin. Melanin is a chemical offering a greater protection against the sun’s rays during the summer. However, it has the unfortunate side effect of making people with darker skin more susceptible to vitamin D deficienciesin winter.

How come?

In a way, yes. You need two to three times more exposure to the sun to get the nutrients your skin and body need. You’re just that fierce.

What can I do about it?

To make up the difference, try taking a vitamin D supplement and adding more foods rich in vitamin D to your diet, like fatty fish, cheese and egg yolks. Also try to add foods fortified with vitamin D into your diet. These include some dairy products, cereals, and orange juice.

You live in a big city

How would you define a big city?

Two major football teams?

Check.

Do we have cathedrals?

Church!

Nightlife?

Ohhhh yes.

And we have the river, just like New York has the Hudson. Liverpool... we are New York!

Unfortunately we forget about the smog. Those who live in areas with heavy air pollution are likely to experience decreases in vitamin D because the sun is being obscured by pollution as well as clouds. 

What can I do about it?

If you’re living the city life and feel under the weather more often, feel depressed or believe that you need a little pick-me-up, take five and talk to your GP.

 

You’re a pensioner

Ah, the wonders of getting old.

You can get away with a lot more that’s for sure.

Unfortunately, that‘s not the case with vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is common among the elderly, plus it may contribute to a decrease in bone mass that can lead to an increased risk of falls and broken bones.

What can I do about it?

Taking a daily supplement is a great way to ensure you receive a good level of vitamin D. Exercising has also proven to be most beneficial in decreasing the risk of falls.

 

You use sunscreen...a lot

Around here, those of us that are white... we’re about as white as we can be. Like milky white. Like Irish white. Which does help us in the winter, but it also means we wear a lot of sunscreen in the summer, whether that’s from straight out of the bottle or in moisturisers, makeup and yes, self-tan.

The stuff is EVERYWHERE. While it helps us in the summer, it can also lead us to having a vitamin D deficiency.

What can I do about it?

Try to wear fewer products that contain sunscreen in the winter and if you can’t because your favourite foundation perfectly matches your skin while also containing some SPF 15 or higher, then make sure you’re getting out into daylight as much as possible and consider taking vitamin D supplements.

 

You feel fatigued a lot

Feeling tired can have lots of causes. Lifestyle, mental health and vitamin D deficiency can contribute. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s overlooked as a potential cause.

Case studies have shown that low blood levels can cause fatigue that has a severe negative effect on quality of life.

What can I do?

Give vitamin D supplements a try to see if you feel any difference in a few weeks. If you’re suspicious a deficiency might cause your tiredness, talk to your GP. They may suggest a blood test to check everything is okay.

 

You have depression

Depression is an increasingly acknowledged condition and can be stronger in some. While not confirmed, in studies clinicians have found that many with depression have less exposure to vitamin D. This is why it’s always suggested to stay active when you’re depressed. Being active can mean leaving the house and going outside where natural light can be absorbed by your body.

What can I do about it?

We have created a blog post here with lots of excellent, non-patronising advice on dealing with depression. This includes staying as active as possible and the use of SAD lights to help you get up feeling better and more ready for the day. If you need to seek help, take a look at our post on local services around Merseyside (and beyond) that can help you with your mental health. If you’re still struggling to get outside, take a look at some amazing, free meet-up groups going on around Merseyside.

 

How to get more vitamin D in your diet

Few foods naturally contain vitamin D. However, fatty fish (such as tuna and salmon) and eggs are a good source. Many dairy products, particularly milk, are fortified with vitamin D. Getting the right amount of vitamin D takes more than dietary sources though. You also need sunlight, because ultraviolet (UV) light is necessary to help the body to make vitamin D.​​​​​​​

Foods that provide vitamin D include:

- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
- Beef liver
- Cheese
- Egg yolks

And remember, if you’re unsure about anything to do with your health and vitamin deficiencies, make an appointment with your GP.

Please share this post to help as many people as possible to be happy this winter!