The winter season brings a chilly dose of weather, shorter days, and less sunlight.
Sure, the last of that list doesn’t bother redheads much (we’re not ones for tanning), but we need to think about vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D isn’t a pill you take as such. Vitamin D is generated by your body from cholesterol, when exposed to sunlight or from eating certain foods. The sun’s UVB rays hit the cholesterol in your skin cells, which provides energy for vitamin D synthesis to happen.
Are gingers at risk of vitamin D deficiency?
Many health benefits have been linked to vitamin D, which is the single biggest benefit of soaking up the sun’s rays. These benefits are said to include helping to prevent autism, autoimmune disease, cancer, and to regulate the immune and the neuromuscular system.
Sounds pretty important, right?
Well, consider this. Thanks to the genius of ginger genetics, redheads are said to be more able than others to produce and store vitamin D when exposed to less sunlight.
While this sounds great, it’s not the only thing to consider.
In reality, what generally happens is redheads tend to avoid spending much time out in the sun, and when they do, their skin is covered with clothing and/or SPF, which block this UV absorption and prevent ample vitamin D synthesis from happening. And if you live further away from equator, in countries like the UK, Canada and Russia, there isn’t much sunlight to go round in the first place.
So what this means is, while redheads may indeed genetically be better at naturally producing and storing vitamin D in their bodies, in a lot of cases the conditions aren’t favourable enough for redheads to absorb sufficient sunlight.
Should redheads take vitamin D supplements?
Some redheads may be surprised when they hear their doctors recommend taking vitamin D supplements, sometimes through the winter months, but in some cases year round.
“But we generate our own vitamin D, don’t we?”
Technically yes, but from what we’ve said above, in many cases the environment or individual circumstances interfere with this genetic capability that redheads have.
In terms of whether you should take vitamin D supplements or not, if you feel tired or lacking in energy, it’s best to speak with your doctor who should be able to recommend whether vitamin D is the culprit for your lull in energy. Or, certain foods are helpful in kickstarting your body’s vitamin D production: milk, salmon, eggs, oranges, mushrooms and tofu are among this list.
In part, a redhead’s body is better placed at synthesising that vitamin D so long as the conditions are in its favour.
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