The clocks go back this weekend which means an extra hour in bed – we can hear London’s night owls simultaneously rejoice. Don’t get too excited, come Monday morning, that extra hour will seem like a distant, dark memory as we fumble for our phones to hit snooze one more time. Reality check: we’ll be getting up and coming home from work in the dark until February.
OK, it sounds obvious, but you need to get outside to reap the benefits of vitamin D from natural sunlight. That means actually taking your lunchbreak – the average UK lunch break is now a measly 22 minutes long and it’s thought one in five of us don’t even leave our desks at all. Go for a stroll or eat al fresco, factor in some walking into your commute – get off a couple of tube stops early, or if possible, walk to work a couple of times a week. It will up your steps if nothing else.
However, during winter sunlight months (October to early March), the UK’s sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation for our skin to be able to make it into vitamin D. In fact, we get most of our vitamin D from March until April. So, other than buying a holiday home in the Caribbean (the dream) we need to be looking at other ways of boosting the essential vitamin.
Up your breakfast game
Get up 15 minutes early and make yourself some smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – both ingredients contain natural vitamin D. Or, if you’re in a rush, most fortified cereals have vitamin D added to them. No excuse to skip your bowl of Cornflakes.
Add ‘shrooms to your diet
Mushrooms are one of the only completely plant-based sources of vitamin D – meaning they are a great choice for veggies and vegans. Here’s the science bit: much like us, mushrooms can take the sun’s UV light and turn it into vitamin D, meaning when we eat them, we reap the benefits, too. Mushroom risotto? Mushrooms on toast? Time to crack out all the ‘shroom recipes in your repertoire.
Other foods to stock up on in winter that are full of natural vitamin D are;
…and beef liver – if you can stomach it.
Stock up on supplements
As with all vitamins, getting them from a natural source is always best. But, in cases where you can’t (read: the British winter) a helping hand doesn’t go amiss. Adults and children over the age of one need 10mcg of vitamin D a day, so choose a supplement such as Solgar Vitamins’ Vitamin D3 or a spray to be sprayed directly into the mouth. This ensures the product is delivered straight into the soft tissue of the mouth, providing better absorption than traditional tablets. We rate Omni by Esther’s Sunshine Spray.
Cod liver oil is also a great source of vitamin D and rich in vitamin A. It can also help to improve joint and eye health, help to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as many other benefits. Make one teaspoon of the stuff part of your morning routine.
Fake it with a UV lamp
If a supplement isn’t upping your sunshine levels, investing in a UV lamp could help banish the winter blues. Lamps, such as the Lumie Vitamin L Slim SAD Light, can be used to boost your mood and help you feel more alert. Always seek advice from your doctor if you feel your vitamin D levels are low.
Take a holiday
OK, so this may be slightly unrealistic, but bypassing your summer holiday (we get plenty of vitamin D from the UK summer sun) for a winter holiday will boost your mood and health in more ways than one. Take a look at our travel section for more ideas on where to book this winter.