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The colder months are upon us, which means thicker coats, more scarves but also an increased risk for vitamin D deficiency. In fact, as many as two in 10 Africans may be vitamin D deficient, which suggests that Africa has the highest levels of severe vitamin D deficiency in the world.

The human body needs vitamin D to stay healthy but ironically, the period when we need vitamin D the most is the exact time that we are not getting enough of it.

Why is vitamin D more important in winter?

How much time do you spend outside during the winter months? Exactly.

During winter, we not only spend more time indoors, but we are also more likely to fall sick as viruses thrive more in cold and dry weather. Speaking of which, recent research published in PLOS One has also found that people with a vitamin D deficiency are 14 times more likely to have severe or critical disease related to COVID-19 than those with normal vitamin D levels.

So what does this have to do with vitamin D? Well, vitamin D helps to regulate your immune system and fights off infection by working with your immune cells. Considering the fact that we get most of our vitamin D from the sun, the colder winter months are sure to increase the risk for a deficiency, and in doing so, weaken our immune system.

How else can vitamin D help?

In addition to regulating your immune system, vitamin D has been found to help the body in a number of different ways.

Several studies have found that vitamin D can help improve bone health, alongside calcium. As our human bodies cannot effectively absorb calcium, vitamin D works to help the body better absorb calcium, as well as phosphorous – which is also necessary for healthy bones.

Additionally, vitamin D plays an important role in regulating your mood, and this may be why so many people deal with the winter blues during colder months.

Where to get your vitamin D?

In addition to the sun, there are food sources that contain vitamin D, some of which are fortified with it. These foods include salmon, sardines, herring, canned tuna as well as beef liver and egg yolk.

Eggs for vitamin D

Eggs are one of only a handful of foods that naturally contain this sunshine vitamin. One large egg (60 g) contains about 190 IU (international units) of vitamin D, almost one-third of our daily needs. 

Did you know that most of the vitamin D is in the egg yolk? Tossing egg yolk may mean you miss out on zinc and selenium, two other nutrients important for supporting our immune system. 

So why not serve up eggs whilst catching some rays at a picnic and get a double whammy of vitamin D? Whether simple and sunny side up, or sandwiched in a bagel with scrumptious smoked trout, include eggs as part of your healthy and balanced diet this winter.

Vitamin D Recipes For Winter

Enjoy this delicious and healthy egg recipe courtesy of The South African Poultry Association (SAPA).

Egg & Smoked Trout Bagel

Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 30ml vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 bagels, toasted
  • 100g smoked trout, thinly sliced
  • 200g baby spinach, blanched
  • 2 dill fronds, chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Method:

1.       In a small saucepan, pour the 500ml boiling water and vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Once the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to low. Crack open the eggs one at a time into separate ramekins or egg poaching cups. 

Eggs Trout Bagel

2.       Drop the poaching cups into the water. For a firm white and runny yolk, you’ll want to poach for 3-4 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon once done to your liking and set aside. 

3.       Slice bagels in half, and toast.

4.       Layer blanched spinach onto the bagel halves, followed by the smoked trout and poached eggs, and top with chopped dill.

5.       Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the assembled bagel. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.

Want to know more?

If there’s one breakfast food that we should all be eating, it’s definitely eggs. So, what are the longevity benefits of eating eggs for breakfast?

References

Bouillon R. (2020). Vitamin D status in Africa is worse than in other continents. The Lancet. Global health8(1), e20–e21. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(19)30492-9

Dror AA, Morzozov N, Daoud A, Namir Y, Yakir O et al. (2022).l Pre-infection 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels and association with severity of COVID-19 illness. PLOS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0263069

Vorland, C. J., Stremke, E. R., Moorthi, R. N., & Hill Gallant, K. M. (2017). Effects of Excessive Dietary Phosphorus Intake on Bone Health. Current osteoporosis reports15(5), 473–482. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11914-017-0398-4

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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