Autumn’s missing nutrient: vitamin D

By Professor David Russell and Charlotte Harbour, Registered Nutritional Therapist mBANT CNHC

Autumn is officially here – let’s welcome the longer evenings, warm drinks and start of a new semester. With the close of summer comes a natural decline in time spent outdoors and exposure to sunlight, especially for us living in the UK.

This has real implications for vitamin D levels in the body, a key nutrient vital for bone health, hormone health, mental health and immunity.

Vitamin D is actually a hormone that is produced by UVB rays from the sun hitting our bare skin. Once it’s in the bloodstream, the pre-vitamin D is taken to the liver and then kidneys to be converted to ‘active’ vitamin D which the body can use. As a fat-soluble vitamin, if we have more than we need, our bodies can store it and then release it at a later date when needed.

Not only does the temperature plummet and rainfall increase in autumn and winter, urging us to spend more time indoors, but we’re actually geographically restricted in terms of how much sunlight we can receive in these seasons. So, even if we were to spend more time in the sun during winter, it still may not be enough to get adequate vitamin D.

Surprisingly, did you know that in terms of latitude London is further north than nearly all of the major Canadian cities and roughly in line with Calgary? Many of us often think that we might be in line with cities such as New York, but the big Apple is actually on the same plane as sunny Madrid.

So, being so far north and working for most of the sunlight hours – what are we do to? Vitamin D is vitally important for our health, so most nutritional therapists will recommend taking a high-quality supplement in the winter months. Liquid drops are a convenient form for adults and children to take, plus many are flavoured with orange to make them sweet and delicious. The recommended intake from the Linus Pauling Institute is around 1000IUs-2000IUs per day.

We’d love to hear how you’re spending the autumn months. Let us know at

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