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Vitamin D - Naturally!

Over the winter, many end up depleted of Vitamin D here in the UK. This affects the immune system, mind and mood and can increase pain levels, especially for those with certain health issues. Typical symptoms of deficiency (but do vary by individual) are fatigue, muscle, joint and bone pain, muscle weakness, respiratory issues and in some cases neurological effects such as balance issues and numbness can be present.  In the long term, low vitamin D poses significant risks to health including osteoporosis and cancer. 

In many cases, those struggling with a variety of health issues that baffle GPs simply have a vitamin D deficiency, or certainly health issues are made much worse because of this.  This is especially true when it comes to Fibromyalgia and Costochondritis

If you feel this is an issue for you, or you have an ongoing condition with no answers, ask your GP to test; you may need to insist, this is not done as standard,  and do request a repeat test 2 - 3 months after following a protocol to restore levels. 

In the summer, 20 minutes outside, three or four times a week with exposed face and arms is all you need to boost your levels of vitamin D.  Of course never ever burn, and avoid midday sunshine in the hot months. 

But in the winter (and in the summer for some working long hours indoors), we have a major problem. So let's look at the options. 


Foods

New UK guidelines recommend 10mcg / 400IU for adults per day. Many professionals consider these levels too low. 
 
It is a fat soluble vitamin and not many foods are rich in Vitamin D, so include these every single day. Your best sources are oily fish, shellfish, milk, butter, shellfish, eggs (free range are proven to have more vitamin D), liver, yoghurts and kefir.  Mushrooms are about one of the best vegetarian sources.  There are some foods fortified with vitamin D, but of course these are processed, so raise their own issues! As a general principle, everyone should focus on these foods, especially in the winter.  If you are slightly low, this is the natural solution, in the case of major deficiency, using food only may be a long and slow road to recovery in  the winter. 
 
A typical fillet of salmon will give you around 500IU, with wild caught salmon being potentially far higher than this, even as much as double. So if you can find it and afford, select wild caught.  Fresh fish is better, but on a budget, tinned tuna will give you 2-300IU per serving.  A cup of milk will give you about 150IU.  An egg will give you around 30-70IU, a typical yoghurt 80IU. 
 

What About Vitamin D Supplements?

Food MUST come first. But sometimes is not enough especially in the winter and for some people. If you have a vitamin D deficiency in the summer, we definitely need to address the underlying issues rather than add synthetic supplements and use sun exposure to carefully heal.  You may have an absorption problem if a deficiency is identified in the summer, so you need to heal the gut first and foremost. 

If you want to supplement the natural way, then it's the incredible Fermented Cod Liver Oil.   In years gone by, a bottle of Cod Liver Oil was found in most kitchen cupboards, but this traditional supplement lost it's place and ended being highly processed, but not this one. This Cod Liver Oil is completely different to those on the shelves which have synthetic vitamin D added because they are so processed.  This is our first choice, and for those in good health eating the right foods alongside the Cod Liver Oil, will be sufficient. This is the most natural and safe way to address the problem and certainly to avoid it happening in the first place. 

If you want to stay totally natural in the winter, then it's food, the cod liver oil, and add sun beds (see below) if this suits. And for many, this is prefererable to adding synthetic. And for most this will definitely be sufficient if your levels are just a little low. 

But if you have a major deficiency, (underlying issues may need addressing) or are struggling to cope with symptoms, you might want to combine with a synthetic supplement as well. Synthetic Vitamin D supplements can be useful and with deficiency potentially having far reaching consequences, this is an excellent example of where synthetic supplements can have a role to play.  It may just be something you do in the short term to restore some balance, and then revert to a natural protocol. For example, just adding for 2 or 3 weeks may help restore serum levels quicker.  

However, too much Vitamin D in this form can be detrimental, so care needs to be taken. If you're going synthetic, you MUST choose Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) never ever Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). You may need around 1000 - 3,000iu per day (50 - 75ug) to correct a deficiency with these sorts of supplements.  But again, it MUST be D3 and buy the very best quality you can. The liquid forms are often the best.  GPs may even give much much higher doses than this for example one off doses of 50,000iu, this should only be done with the guidance of your practitioner in cases where deficiency is severe.  Even with D3, you can take too much, the flip side of the argument and why natural is always best in the first instance.


D Needs Other Minerals to Work

As with all things, balance is key and you need calcium and magnesium for D to work. Likewise, supplementing calcium without sufficient Vitamin D can be detrimental.  So if you are adding a D3, make sure you have lots of balanced green veggies and dairy, and perhaps add some kelp alongside for balanced calcium and magnesium.  

Additionally, take your synthetic Vitamin D3 with some fats or oils to try and get the most you can out of it. 

And finally, you need to ensure good vitamin K levels to make sure Vitamin D can do it's work; so you need lots of fermented foods.  The Fermented Cod Liver Oil naturally contains Vitamin K - a great example of nature knowing best!  And why natural is always the first choice and most balanced way to supplement.  nAnd it's interesting that even in cases where someone resorts to a synthetic supplement, using natural foods and nutrition alongside these will ensure better results and avoid imbalance. 

 

A Note on Additives in Supplements

These mainstream, synthetic supplements will of course be high in additives typically, especially if you choose tablet form.  We've been additive free for a decade, but sometimes we all have to compromise, in the short term, please don't worry too much about this issue; it is the long term use of additives across many supplements that causes most concern.  Read more about the ADDITIVE FREE issue here.  But the use of any synthetic supplements with lots of additives should be for short term intervention where needed, going natural first is always the preference!   But for some people, you may choose the next option of sunbeds instead of a synthetic supplement. 


 

What About Sunbeds

Now, natural sunlight is of course better. But we can see that vitamin D can be a major challenge in the winter, and for vegans and vegetarians and for anyone with certain health issues at all times of year. So one option is to consider sunbeds.  In Scotland, tanning salons are legally allowed to make claims about vitamin D benefits. 

Sunbeds are of course a personal choice, and should NOT be overdone. But as with all things, balance is key, but occasional sunbeds to top up your levels if it reduces pain and fatigue is well worth considering and we are happy to recommend this.

In fact, some may choose this option over a synthetic supplement - there is certainly an argument that this is more natural and gets past the issues of absorption if this is relevant to why you have a deficiency in the first place.  There has been a lot of misinformation and scaring of people when it comes to both sun exposure, and using sun beds, we need to take a balanced view here.  Here's a look at safe tanning and why so much advice is flawed on this issue. And when we look at the suffering a vitamin D deficiency can cause, affecting quality of life, let alone the long term implications, in moderation and with care, this is certainly a natural and effective solution. 

Seek out a low pressure UVB sunbed in preference to a high pressure bed which focuses more on UVA which will not affect your vitamin D levels.  If you have a deficiency, you will need 2 - 3 sessions per week over several weeks to really restore levels.  It is essential to be guided by qualified staff, and let them advise on the amounts to build up to for your skin type, but never ever burn or over do.  A specific sun bed article here

 

Find Your Personal Balance

So, there are choices and decisions to be made here, and your situation is unique to you. Some may choose to stay with food and sunshine only, some may combine food and cod liver oil and sunshine / winter sunbeds, some may opt for food, cod liver oil and synthetic.  Interestingly the renowned Dr Mercola advocates sunbeds over supplements including cod liver oil.  And there is plenty of debate on this issue amongst researchers. But what we do know, is low vitamin D is a major issue, doing nothing is not the answer, but that the final decision rests with what suits your ethos and lifestyle, and the health issues you may or may not be facing.  Restesting your levels will be an important part of your decision process. 

 

What About Vegetarians and Vegans?

Food forms are rare, mushrooms are one source. For vegetarians, you have dairy options of course, but hard to get enough. And for vegans especially in the winter, it can be extremely challenging, and supplements really are the solution. Certainly more so than fortified processed foods in our opinion.

Chlorella is a totally natural, plant based supplement with some Vitamin D, and it's in perfect balance with for example calcium and magnesium, but also many other nutrients.  And like our entire range, of course our chlorella is Additive Free.  See this page to see why Chlorella is the Perfect Vegan Supplement.  

Bee Pollen also provides some Vitamin D in a totally natural form.

But in the winter, and if you have a deficiency, even these two supplements will only lift levels a little, and you are going to need to add a synthetic supplement and / or sunbeds.

 

Seventh Wave - Additive Free - Naturally!

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