- Has the recent debate over vitamin D supplements been settled?
- Was The Sun right or wrong that they can be HARMFUL?
- How to HALF your chances of respiratory illnesses and keep your bones stronger
It’s an odd choice….
The International Day of Happiness… was on the 20th March.
Talk about picking a challenging day.
It was a rainy Monday, too. Or where I was, at least. An unusually cold, gloomy Monday and I was late for work because my home computer had crashed (and I think died) and I needed to take it into the shop….
I guess there’s no universally good time of year to be happy.
But I don’t know about you…
For me, the REAL day of happiness (for Brits at least) is going to be this weekend.
You see, I can’t wait for the clocks to change in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Or at least it does for a while.
Partly it’s psychological…
In those first few weeks when the light evenings are a novelty, it’s as if time has stretched and new possibilities open like daffodils.
For me, it’s those evening walks with the dog where I’m NOT hunched into the rain, searching for poo with a tiny torch in the darkness.
And it’s the sheer amount of light you get in a day, which seems amazing and bountiful and always lifts the mood…
It’s a medical issue too.
For all sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) this time of the year is a lifting of the veil. More natural light has a diret impact on their brain chemistry.
And as I’ve shown you recently, your mood and sense of wellbeing is closely linked to your physical health.
For more, check out this article on the power of dopamine.
And this one on loneliness as a health problem as severe as smoking.
So if there’s going to be a BRITISH Day of Happiness I declare it to be this Sunday, and to heck with last Monday’s “celebration”.
And of course, there’s the vitamin D boost we all get…
The proven benefits of vitamin D…
We spend our winters without enough vitamin D getting into our systems. It exists in food but comes primarily from contact with sunlight.
We also know that vitamin D keeps bones and muscles strong. A lack of it can lead to osteoporosis in adults.
So finally, after this weekend we all have an opportunity to get some more sunshine. If possible you should get out on walks, sit in the garden, throw open some doors and let the light hit your bare skin.
But even when the clocks change and the world gets a bit lighter, many of us still need more vitamin D. It might be because we work unsociable hours, have disabilities or psychological problems. Or we find it difficult or embarrassing to wear the kind of clothes that show off large areas of skin.
Which means that supplements might be something to consider, even in spring.
Of course, you might have noticed the big mainstream media debate about Vitamin D recently.
You may even be confused…
Are vitamin supplements worth it?
Do they work?
Are they harmful?
Well, a study published in the British Medical Journal in February this year showed that daily Vitamin D supplements could prevent more than three million people a year falling ill with a cold or chest infection. In fact it can HALF your chances of getting a respiratory infection.
But this latest study CONTRADICTED other previous studies that claimed Vitamin D supplements were ineffective, sparking outraged tabloid articles by journalists simply following the herd (as usual).
For instance, in November last year, a Sun article told readers that Vitamin D pills were not only a ‘waste of time’ but ‘harmful’.
This was all because of “new research” said the newspaper.
But it wasn’t… it was because of a review of previous studies into vitamin D and hardly conclusive.
What the new study suggests is that the previous tests were on those taking monthly vitamin D boosts – occasional doses.
It seems from the latest evidence that taking these suppements has to be consistent, daily and long-term to have a significant effect on your health.
Now this might be good news for some…
But it is slightly worrying….
What happens when a news story like this comes out is that everyone starts wolfing vitamin D tablets like nobody’s business and health shops and suplement manufacturers start raking it in… attracting sharks who smell quick profits and start producing cheap, inferior or even black market versions.
It’s like a food fad…
The public gargle on vitamin D for a few months as they all share their excitement with neighbours and colleagues and family…
Then they lose interest and momentum, or realise they can’t afford it….
Worse, they hand over all responsibility to a pill rather than their own lifestyle believing they’ve done all they can.
This is why the study authors, and other experts, argue that the best move is to fortify our foods with vitamin D, like they do in Finland, a country that has huge problems with a lack of sunlight.
Currently, you can get your vitamin D from oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks. But most people don’t get enough from diet alone.
Interestingly, the NHS website reassures us that “from about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.”
But this recent study published in the BMJ is actually NHS-backed and suggests that we need a vitamin D boost all year round.
So perhaps their advice is going to change….
A simple piece of advice
At the People’s Doctor we believe you should get as much sunlight as possible in the darker months and when the weather is not so good. Once spring comes around try and get out at least once a day (without being ridiculous and frying yourself in hot mid-summer sun).
We also believe that you should try and up your take of oily fish – but if you can’t because you hate the taste or don’t eat meat, then you should consider a high quality krill oil. You can find all the details and recommended products in our shop here.
I’ll make sure I keep up with this story and pass on any new vitamin D research as and when it’s released.
Until next time