Unless you’re from planet Zonk, you have probably noticed that you feel much better about life when you get a decent dollop of sunshine!

There are clearly psychological reasons for just loving the summer but it’s what lies beneath that many people don’t understand.

Some of the things I’m about to tell you will be the opposite of commonly accepted practice whereas some will slap you in the face as pretty obvious when you think about it.

I’ve had many clients complain of eating well, sleeping lots and training hard but never quite feeling their best at certain times of the year – post Christmas being the most common when it combines with the end of the fun and festivities!

Just recently I personally felt myself struggling to ‘get on it’ in training and constantly felt this niggle of not quite being on the right train tracks in life.

Well I would like to put forward a strong case for a Vitamin D deficiency.

Funnily enough Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin in that we can’t extract it from food.

It is in fact a hormone produced by the liver after our skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun. When UVB rays hit your skin,  Vitamin D3 is produced then transported to the liver where it is converted to a ’supercharged’ form of Vitamin D – the hormone we need so badly.


What does Vitamin D do?

Vitamin D plays a powerful part in many different processes within the body including:

– Improving insulin sensitivity thus aiding body composition control and diabetes

– Minimization of energy stored as fat. Also worth noting is that Vitamin D is fat soluble so the more fat your carry the less Vitamin D will be available to the rest of the body as more is stored away.

– Lowers blood pressure

– Slows cell growth  and suppresses certain cells which aid the development of bacteria, fungi and cancerous cells. It also aids programmed cell death helping the body get rid of dying cells which can cause problems if not killed off ‘on time’.

– Aids nerve growth and works with DHA (an essential fatty acid from fish oils) thus having implications for brain disorders and diseases

– Aids calcium absorption

A lack of Vitamin D can result in:

– Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as described above, brain disorders, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and cancer development.

– Raised stress hormones which can spark inflammatory conditions

Fairly important then!

My Case For Vitamin D As a Major Issue In People’s Health and Well-Being

We have finally, truly become cavemen in that we never get out of our 3-4 favourite caves!

Get up, leave home in a tin box, get to cave number 2 where we work all day indoors with no sunlight, get back in the tin box, drive to cave number  3 where we have a workout then get back in the tin box to drive back to cave number 1 where we hit the sack ready to go again the next day!

Those who do get some outdoor time, may well live in places where the sun is a distant memory for 6 months or more anyway.

And THEN when it does reappear, they rush to smother themselves in creams which block any chance of getting the Vitamin D production line going!

Now we start to see that as usual there has been an over-reaction to sun exposure.

There is no disputing that too much sun and too many sunbeds are dangerous and at times, downright stupid but blocking out the sun completely? Insane in my opinion.

Given that the liver stores around 3 months worth of Vitamin D, it is easy to see why people who live in Guernsey (where I’m from) start getting moody and depressed around November. By New Year and into March, people are often in a bad way.

I had a Guernsey Fitness Camp member talk to me the other day about this and she realised that she has felt this for the last few years…except last year.


She went to New Zealand at Christmas (their summer) and got 3 weeks of sunshine!


Here’s Your Action Plan

1) Go live somewhere with a UV index of >3 on a permanent basis…

Not happening?

2) Go on holiday within 3 months of your summer finishing. Make sure it has sunshine!

3) Don’t be a dark-skinned, overweight female. Those three traits are at higher risk of D deficiency. You can sort out the middle one….

4) Ensure you have a high magnesium intake which encourages D absorption. I recommend supplemental sources of magnesium ending in -ate (e.g magnesium citrate) and transdermal magnesium for great absorption. This will ensure you get enough.

5) Eat enough nuts, bananas and leafy greens for magnesium as well.

6) In winter use sunbeds in SHORT bursts. Depending on your skin colour, 3-5 minutes at a time will be enough to encourage Vitamin D production without the dangers of lengthy exposure. Build up from 3 minutes and don’t go more than 2-3 times per week. Ideally, use UVB sunbeds which don’t involve the UVA rays which are the damaging ones.

7) Supplement with Vitamin D3.

Dosage is dependent on weight as it is a fat soluble ‘vitamin’.

A target of 20-25 IU per 1lb of bodyweight is a good target if you can’t be bothered to calculate exactly. So for an 80kg person of relatively lean build, the dosage should be around 3500-4000 IU per day for optimal results.

Remember that if this person carries a lot of body fat, they need to increase this.

This dosage may be taken daily or in one big dose per week without much difference in impact.

You can get Chewable Vitamin D3 tablets at our suppliers Phil Richards Performance

8 ) Don’t automatically cake yourself in sunscreen. Check out the table below and get your UVB fix before covering up.

How Much Is Enough?

The key factors in sun exposure are your skin type and the UV Index of the location you’re in on that day. 30 minutes exposure for a fat fella in Northern England will not yield the same results for pale skinned, easily burned as 30 minutes in a strong Thai sun.

This table is taken from The Vitamin D Cure by Dr James Dowd – an excellent read if you want to know more!

The figures given are the minutes required to get your fix on a day when the UV Index is as shown.

Remember these will be need to be adjusted upwards if you are overweight – but as always don’t over do it (and lose the weight ASAP!)

Skin type

UVI 0-2

UVI 3-5

UVI 6-7

UVI 8-10

UVI 11+

Type 1 (always burn, never tan)

No D





Type 2 (burn easily, rarely tan)

No D





Type 3 ( occasionally burn, slowly tan)

No D





Type 4 (rarely burn, rapidly tan)

No D





Type 5-6 (never burn, always dark)

No D





Follow the advice above and you should notice quick improvements in your energy, mood and overall health and body composition (if used as part of a healthy training and nutrition plan).