I, like many other people in the world, have a very carefully crafted morning routine. I get out of bed, stumble towards the kettle and brew coffee so strong a spoon can stand up in it. Then, bleary-eyed and clutching my cup, I head to my desk and start sipping, filling out my morning journal and slowly making plans for the day. It’s at this point my intention is usually to fill up my water bottle and take my daily vitamins with breakfast (I go for a mix of B12, Omega 3 and D3 - aka The Vegan Trinity) but nine times out of ten I get distracted and end up taking them around lunchtime when I eventually remember, or sometimes even later.
Through the winter, I’ve come to realise how much of a boost we can get from supplementing with D3, but it did get me wondering if I could somehow optimise its power by taking it at a certain time - who doesn’t want to make sure they’re getting the most out of their supplements?
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at whether forgetting to take your Vitamin D in the morning might have any negative effects, or if taking it at night is better for you, and how to make the most of your sunshine.
What is Vitamin D?
We need Vitamin D for bone, brain, lung and heart health, as well as reducing the risk of chronic conditions, improving our cellular growth and keeping our immune systems functioning well.
It’s different from other vitamins in that we can actually produce it ourselves, mainly in our skin as a response to the UVB rays in sunlight, giving it the delightful name ‘The Sunshine Vitamin’. However, we can also bolster our intake during rainy days with the foods we eat, such as mushrooms and fortified plant-based products, or by taking a supplement. This helps to avoid a deficiency, which can lead to fatigue, depression, pain and weakness - so we need to make sure we keep those blood levels up!
Time of the Day?
Vitamin D is fat soluble, so this means that taking it with the largest meal of the day will lead to more of the supplement being used by your system, especially if that meal contains healthy fats.
Having your dose of the sunshine vitamin with a healthy breakfast is also a great way to kickstart your morning, especially if you’re taking multiple supplements, as it is super convenient to work into your morning routine. If, like me, you’re prone to forgetting these things, why not try setting an alarm to remind you to take your vitamins at the same time each day?!
What might not be so beneficial is taking Vitamin D in the evening or a night before you go to bed. Studies have shown that there is a link between the Sunshine Vitamin and sleep quality - and it might even have a negative effect on the production of melatonin, the hormone which helps to regulate and control our sleep-wake cycle. However, other studies have shown that people with low levels of Vitamin D in their system might suffer from reduced sleep, and an increase in disturbances during sleep. As further research into the links between sleep and Vitamin D levels is warranted, it might be best to see what works best for you.
Essentially, what is most important is to ensure consistency in your supplementation, by finding out how and where to fit it into your day in a way that works for you and makes you feel good.
Time of the Year?
In the Northern Hemisphere, most of us will get all the Vitamin D we need through exposure to sunlight in the lighter months - between April and September - with 10-30 minutes of sunlight on our legs and arms.
However, in the dark and dreary winter months, when it’s cold and miserable (thanks, weather!), we are unlikely to be exposing our bare skin to the elements. This is why healthcare services suggest that everyone takes a Vitamin D supplement between September and April, to help our bodies retain good levels of the ‘sunshine vitamin’, even when the sun itself refuses to make an appearance for days on end.
It is also recommended that those who work night shifts, have darker skin, wear clothes that cover most of their skin all year round and don’t spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, continue to take a Vitamin D supplement all year around.
There you have it - a supplementation routine that works for you, based around a meal, will allow more sunshine into your system, give you a boost of energy and help to keep your body healthy. Understanding your body’s unique needs will help you to craft the best routine for you, so try experimenting with a few different times of the day until you find the optimum time for you!