Maintaining Vitamin D Throughout The Winter
So, it's September and the sun is starting to change slowly its angle becomes greater and we start to shift into those winter months this will cause a change in the frequency of light that hits the earth one of which is UVB. This means our skin can no longer make vitamin D but not to worry we should still have a 3-month store of it in our skin, so we will be fine for a little while if we get a winter holiday around January to somewhere below the 30th latitude (just a little south of Marbella).
If you are not that lucky you will have to think about other methods to keep your vitamin D levels from dropping, such as supplementation, using a synthetic version of vitamin D in its active form can cause issues with other fat-soluble vitamins in few ways. It can create an excess in vitamin D in general that the body cannot use fast enough or can create an excess in comparison to other fat-soluble vitamins that work with vitamin D such as A and K2. The enzyme that degrades excess vitamin D will also degrade all other fat-soluble vitamins at the same rate, so if excess vitamin D stimulates increased work rate of the enzyme then all fat-soluble vitamins will be degraded with increased speed.
This can cause functional deficiencies in other fat-soluble vitamins, disrupt metabolic pathways and deplete micronutrient stores. This can cause a problem with iron and copper metabolism and deplete magnesium levels which overall leads to a diminished immune system and increased inflammation. So, if you do take vitamin D supplements then adding animal-based retinol (vitamin A) and K2 is necessary and vitamin E is also helpful to maintain balance.
Embrace the cold My preferred mechanism of slowing vitamin D depletion, increasing immune function, improving cognition, increasing energy levels and getting rid of the fat that you may have built during visits to those lovely summer pub gardens. Yes, you heard that right winter is the time to drop fat, many have the idea that winter we fatten up but really this is wrong we should be getting slimmer. When you look at nature all mammals that fatten up seasonally do it in the autumn to prepare for winter and lose that excess fat during the cold months. Cold thermogenesis is the creation of heat by the body in response to cold and is based around a few key points. Firstly the cold causes the conversion of white adipose tissue (WAT) to brown adipose tissue (BAT), this allows your body to burn this fat store as free heat. Secondly, it causes a release of various immune-boosting hormones as well as a few growth factors to improve the growth of specific areas like the nervous system and vascular system. Thirdly it up relegates energy efficiency of the cell and oxygen transport. The face and chest are key indicators for the rest of the body and will signal an effect globally not just locally so to get started all you need to do is affect a small area, the signal of decreasing skin temperature alone to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 12 degrees Celsius is enough to start these reactions, it will take 2 weeks to become cold-adapted and activate the metabolic pathways fully.
How to embrace the cold This can be done in many ways, face dunks, cold showers and cold baths now bear with me I know the idea of jumping in a cold lake swimming might seem a bit extreme but the results are worth it. I have seen the most cold loathing types become addicted to this including myself as you can start gradually and build it up to a point you can wear a t-shirt in the snow and still feel comfortable.
Step 1 face dunks Fill a basin with cold tap water, take a big breath and hold your head under the water until you can’t stand it or need to take a breath. This also induces intermittent hypoxia which has the added benefits of increasing new brain cell growth. The face and chest are key indicators for the rest of the body and will signal an effect globally not just locally
Step 2 Cold showers, start warm as normal and at the end finish by gradually turning the water down to the lowest possible and holding under it for a full 10 seconds. Increase this by 10 seconds daily until you can wash underneath it.
Step 3 Cold baths, some may find this easier than the showers as it’s just the initial shock of getting in sit there for 10 deep breaths and it starts to become much easier. Start between 1-3 minutes and build to 5 then 10 minutes. If you become addicted to this like so many have and want to go deeper to get some of the superhuman abilities like Wim Hoff who climbed Mount Everest in shorts then seek some professional help from someone with experience in temperature therapy.
Can everyone do it? Yes but not all at the same level, those with poor omega 3:6 ratios will struggle much more and people with Reynolds may have to take extra care and time to increase as it will take time to increase the vascularity in their extremities. The best options to help increase tolerance to cold is to supplement with vitamin C and bitter melon which will aid WAT to BAT conversion as well as improve fat metabolism.