Feeling the winter blues? Could a vitamin D deficiency be linked to depression and a low mood?
Winter has well and truly arrived. If you are feeling the winter blues you may need a bit more than getting snug in your winter woollies with a cup of warm chai. With the lack of golden summer rays our vitamin D levels can fall by up to a massive 30% in winter. When our vitamin D levels drop so can our mood. If you have been feeling flat, depressed or a little more sensitive than usual it may well be worth getting your G.P. to check your Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is mainly produced when our skin is exposed to ultra-violet light (UVB) from sunshine. We are therefore more prone to Vitamin D deficiency in winter or if we hardly ever expose our skin to UVB rays.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin (sometimes also referred to as a hormone) for our general health and well-being, it helps the body absorb calcium and maintains strong teeth and bones. It also plays a crucial role in keeping our immune system strong and is thought to assist prevention of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and even some cancers.
The best source of Vitamin D is daily exposure to sunlight. Just twenty minutes of winter sunshine is enough to keep our vitamin D levels in check but if our vitamin D levels are already low it is likely that our levels will drop further during the cooler months and supplementation may be required.
Small amounts of vitamin D can be obtained through the diet.
The following foods contain vitamin D:
Cod liver oil
Salmon (with bones)
Dairy – Milk, cheese
Foods fortified with vitamin D such as some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals.
If your vitamin D is low and you have been diagnosed with a clinical deficiency then extra support via supplementation is the best way to levels back up to a satisfactory level.
Top tip - If you store your mushrooms in a sunny spot after purchasing this can help to increase their vitamin D content!
The only way to accurately diagnose a vitamin D deficiency is via a simple blood test however there are some subtle signs and symptoms to be aware of. If any of these seem familiar it may be wise to get your vitamin D levels tested.
Signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
A low fat dietVitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means if you do not include fats in your diet you will absorb less fat soluble vitamins. Malabsorption gut conditions This includes gut conditions like Crohn's, IBS and celiac disease can also result in vitamin D deficiency.
Dark skin toneThe pigment in your skin acts as a natural sunscreen. The skin requires sunlight to manufacture Vitamin D so if your skin has more pigment, the more your skin is protected from the sun and the longer you need in the sun to make adequate amounts of vitamin D.
Flat or depressed moodLow levels of vitamin D have been associated with a low mood and depression. When vitamin D levels drop we can feel flat and sometimes even more teary or emotional than usual. The brain chemical Serotonin that helps us to feel good increases with exposure to sunlight and decreases when there is a lack of sunlight. This may be why many people feel sad in winter and happier in summer.
Aching bonesChronic fatigue and fibromyalgia type symptoms such as tiredness, aching bones and muscles can be symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.Vitamin D helps the bones absorb calcium. If there is a deficiency of vitamin D the bones can become weak resulting in aching bones.
Excess sweating A classic sign of vitamin D deficiency is excess sweating, particularly a sweaty head or hands. This can occur in children and adults.
Low Vitamin D levels can be hard to detect as deficiency signs are easily missed, a blood test is the the best way to check Vitamin D levels. If low, a supplement may be recommended until your levels raise to an optimal level (usually the ideal range is 80 mmol/l). Drops or sublingual sprays tend to be more easily absorbed and my preferred from of supplementation. Most Vitamin D supplements are animal derived so if you are vegan speak to your healthcare professional or local pharmacist for a vegan friendly alternative.
Vita-sol uses vegan friendly vitamin D in our Flexibility powder sourced from fortified mushrooms. Take daily every day to support healthy skin, joints, hair and nails.
Incorporating Vita-sol powders into your daily intake is only limited to your imagination...
As a shot in water - mix 7g (2 teaspoons) in cold, filtered water. Make sure you add enough water to mix thoroughly. The wholefood powders can be mixed together to form a "super shot" in water for example :1. Purity and Flexibility May support inflamed acne, eczema etc.2. Flexibility and Infinity May support wound healing, post dermal therapy treatments, injectables etc.
Added to smoothies - add 7g (2 teaspoons) in you favourite smoothie recipe.Smoothies work best with Purity and/or Flexibility. Infinity can be added but because it has a beetroot and berry flavour of its own some people prefer to take this separately as a shot or drink.
As a chilled drink - mix 7g (2 teaspoons) in cold, filtered water. This works best with Infinity and Purity.Infinity can be taken at any time of the day but it can be used as a pre work out stamina boost or in the afternoon to combat energy slumps and sugar cravings. Purity can be added to a water bottle and drunk through the day.
As a warm drink - mix 7g (2 teapsoons) in warm milk.Add Flexibility to warm milk with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon for a nourishing chai latte.Try Infinity can be stirred through hot cacao milk for a healthy red velvet latte.
Other ideas? please see our recipe section.
The next step is to determine the types of food that battle chronic inflammation. What we're looking for are foods, or food supplements, that have anti-inflammatory components in them. As Dr. Hu, explains, “many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects”.
Keto Diet: The Pros and Cons of the Rapidly Growing Diet Craze
Keto diet, or Ketogenic Diet, has quickly gained popularity in the recent years. In a short span of time, it has people talking about it, and the weight loss benefit that it has to offer. Medical professionals, Hollywood stars and fitness experts are even into it, some of them saying that it could possibly repeal the Paleo Diet. But what exactly is the Keto Diet? How does it work? Is it 100% safe? Does it have side effects and is good for a human in the long run?
Ketogenic Diet (A.K.A. Keto Diet)
The Ketogenic Diet is a low-carbohydrate, adequate protein, high-fat diet program that is commonly used medicine to treat "difficult-to-control," epilepsy in children. Nutritionist, Fiona Tuck, said during an interview with HuffPost Australia that "The keto diet is basically a very low-carb diet to encourage the body to use fat as fuel instead of glucose. The lower the carbohydrate intake, the quicker the body enters a fat burning state."
Glucose, which serves as the main source of fuel for the cells in our bodies, is mostly found in carbohydrates. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates are breads, rice, yogurt, beans, potatoes, and sugary sweets. When we choose to dramatically limit our body's carbohydrate intake, we force it to look for a substitute fuel source. This then prompts it to convert its supply of fat to glucose, a process that is called ketosis.
Ketosis and the Amount of Carbohydrates You Need to Lessen
Our bodies begin to burn fat by breaking down reserved fats, enabling it to acquire glucose from triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid) which is found in our blood. Fiona further explains the process by adding "ketosis produces ketone bodies which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver. When the body calls on fat stores to supply energy, we lose weight." The ketosis process is fast-acting, which means it affects and shows results in the fastest way possible.
"The positives -- it's a quick and reliable way to lose weight quickly, so it's better suited to someone that needs to lose weight quickly in a short period of time. For example, a morbidly obese person in need of medical intervention," Fiona concluded. But to enter a state ketosis, the body's carbohydrates must be cut off to a certain amount. It's widely accepted for diet enthusiasts, and nutritionists alike, that fewer than 50 grams of carbohydrates is enough to encourage the body to go into ketosis.
A regular Ketogenic Diet usually consists of 5% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 75% fat, which is equivalent to roughly 10-50 grams of carbohydrates absorbed everyday. You are able to see the huge difference in carbohydrates intake when you compare it to recommended healthy diet, which consists of 30% complex carbohydrates, 20-30% protein, and 20% percent fat. So in general, it is definitely a good way to lose weight, but is it really that good?
Nutritionists have seen in reports that Ketogenic Diet does help improve those with health conditions, some of which include:
PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome)
It also increases the level of HDL (High-density lipoprotein), commonly known as "good cholesterol," in our body's. HDL is the one responsible for carrying cholesterol into the liver, where it will either be reused, or excreted away from the body. Your blood pressure also tends to go down, which decreases the chances of having kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and many more. Overall, it is an effective diet for weight loss for those with health conditions like obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic resistance. However, too much of anything will always carry with a dangerous after effect. According to Fiona, "If followed under medical supervision for a short period of time, it can be very successful [for weight loss]. However, long term is not recommended due to potential side effects." Oftentimes those that start on a ketogenic diet will reduce their fresh fruit and vegetable intake considerably to reach ketosis more rapidly or because they have not educated themselves on the importance of increasing vegetables during the diet.
The Unsung Side Effects
"Cutting out food groups for a long period of time may also put the body at risk of nutritional deficiencies. Limiting carbohydrate intake means a higher fat and protein intake, leading to possible overconsumption of saturated fats and proteins," Fiona said, which is definitely true in all cases. Extreme Ketogenic Diets promotes that carbohydrate intake should be as low as 5-10 grams a day. Completely cutting out complex carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains could lead to complications, instead of providing healthy results.
Your body can handle going through ketosis for quite some time. But stay on it for too long without increasing your fibre and nutrient intake you'll eventually be experiencing a number of negative side effects like:
Glucose & Cholesterol Issues – Whilst the Ketogenic Diet may prove favourable for many with insulin resistance, it could also possibly lead to the brain inducing insulin resistance, in an effort to preserve glucose for itself.
Headaches and lethargy – A result from the body adapting.
Increase in Levels of Cortisol – Leads to decreased progesterone and irregular menstrual cycles.
Gastrointestinal Issues – Constipation, disruption and starvation of the beneficial gut microbes.
Mood Disorders – Depression and anxiety can be caused due to low intake of carbohydrates.
Possible Thyroid Disruption – TSH increase; T3, T4 decrease.
A prolonged state of extreme ketosis also leads to an increase of acid load in the body. As the blood pH must remain stable, the increased acid load means the body has to work harder at maintaining safe levels. Overall, long-term application of the diet could pose major health risks like, gut issues, a decrease in healthy gut flora, and potential nutritional deficiencies.
To ensure that you are receiving the nutrients you need make sure to eat 2 cups of vegetables with every meal and incorporate a whole food powder such as the Vita-sol Purity for added nutrient intake. Plus the Vita-sol Wholefood Powders are low in carbohydrates so are a suitable nutrient dense choice in the ketogenic program. In conclusion, Ketogenic Diet may provide a plethora of health benefits, but should be kept in check. It may be beneficial to kick start weight loss, however it is not recommended as a long term dietary solution unless recommended by a qualified health care practitioner to treat a specific type of health condition like obesity, metabolic syndrome, and epilepsy. If you plan on using this type of diet, then it's best that you use a food supplement that'll support your gut and liver. Vita-sol's Purity Wholefood have organic green blends like Barley Grass, Broccoli, Spirulina, and more, combined together to cleansing and detox. It also contains Choline, a lipotropic fat mobilizing nutrient that supports phase 2 of the liver detoxification process, giving you the best results possible. Flexibility Nutritional Information:
Infinity Nutritional Information:
Purity Nutritional Information: