7 signs deficient vitamin d sunshine paleo network

7 Signs You’re Deficient in Vitamin D

Do you get enough Vitamin D? Luckily we seem to be coming out of the sun-fearing era slightly, but even so, with so many of us in office jobs, it can be really hard to get enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D Deficiency 7 Signs Symptoms Sun Exposure Paleo Network

Whilst some foods are fortified with vitamin D, they aren't natural whole foods-and even so, the amount they provide is tiny compared to the levels you can get naturally, from the sun.

There’s no substitute for getting regular blood tests to find out exactly where your vitamin D levels are sitting, but did you know certain symptoms may indicate a deficiency?

How’s your mood?

Sunlight boosts serotonin levels, which are associated with our mood. If you’re feeling inexplicably blue, vitamin D is definitely worth investigating.

You have darker skin

The darker your skin, the more sun exposure you’ll need to get sufficient vitamin D levels.  This means if you have darker skin and live further from the equator – or spend a lot of time indoors, you’re more likely to be deficient

You’re in pain

If you have bone or muscle pain, this could also point to low vitamin D levels. In fact, most muscle weakness appears to be linked to low levels of vitamin D.

You’re tired

If you’re generally feeling fatigued, this could be because you don’t have enough of the vitamin D required for its role in energy production.

Respiratory issues

Another potential symptom is chronic respiratory problems such as asthma – it’s been observed that higher vitamin D levels can decrease the severity of asthma attacks.

You’re overweight

Being overweight means you need move vitamin D in your system, since its fat soluble – whilst decreased levels also make it harder to lose weight.

You get every infection and bug going around

Vitamin D plays an important role in your immune system – so if you’re catching one thing after another, get those levels checked!

When did you last get your levels checked? Were you deficient?


Are you a severe night owl LSPD late sleep phase disorder insomnia

Are you an extreme night owl?

In my quest to understand more about my slow metabolism, I've been looking more and more at my circadian rhythms.

I've always been a night owl and tend to come alive late at night becoming super productive and creative, when everyone else is asleep. When I've worked long hours in the city – and had to get up early, I would often try to go to bed at a sensible time. But I’d just lie in bed feeling wide awake and frustrated that sleep didn't come. Until much, much later.

When you Google struggling to sleep, you come up with lots of hits for insomnia. Insomnia didn't quite feel right, but what else could it be? Insomniacs often wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to get back to sleep. Once I'm asleep, I don’t wake up until my sleep is abruptly ended by an alarm, or I have the rare luxury of waking up naturally.

I noticed when I wasn't working, and was able to follow my natural routine, I'd eventually feel tired in the early hours of the morning, and wake up around 11:34am. When I say around, I mean precisely. Every single day. So I was getting a decent 8 or so hours sleep. It just wasn't at a socially acceptable time. Doesn't sound so much like insomnia.

Are you a severe night owl LSPD late sleep phase disorder insomnia

It has a name?

After researching this further, I eventually found out about other people who sleep like this too. And it has a name: Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD – but most definitely not to be confused with the other DSPD – Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder). DSPD is exactly what I have been experiencing. A complete shift of the socially acceptable sleeping time several hours to the right. Core body temperature, hormones, alertness, energy levels – all happening at the “wrong” time.

Jetlag reset

I recently travelling halfway round the world from Australia to the UK. I had expected to be able to use jetlag to my advantage and “reset” my sleep times. The first few days it all went to plan, I’d be unable to fight off the tiredness by 8pm – and would be wide awake by 5am. But, after just a few days I fell back into my middle of the night to 11:34am routine. After researching DSPD, this seems to be the same issue across the board. Changing time zones is not a fix.

Curing DSPS?

It’s all quite gloomy on most sites, as many people believe there is no cure. They suggest getting a job to fit in with your natural sleeping times, rather than trying to work a conventional job with a 6am alarm call. The most common “cure” recommends you force yourself to stay up for an extra hour or two each night, with the idea being that after a few weeks you could stop adding on the time when you get to your preferred new bedtime, perhaps 10pm? But that seems like a bit of a hard core solution. In the middle of that transition you’d be sleeping over the entire daylight hours. That can't be good!?

My solution

Over the last few weeks, I've been trying out my own method of solving this – and I've made some really good progress.

The answer seems to be in Circadian Rhythms. We get our cues from daylight as to what time of day it is, and crucially the early morning sun is completely different to late afternoon sun. There is far more blue light in the mornings, which I simply never got to see. Also at night, all the artificial street lights come on, TV’s, computer screens, smartphone – and we’re bathed in artificial blue light signalling to our brain that it’s morning and we should be at the peak of our alertness!

So it was clear to me that I needed to get natural sunlight as early as possible in the mornings. As soon as I wake up, I now head straight outside, barefoot, and walk for about an hour. I've also stopped wearing sunglasses, to make sure I'm getting as much natural light in as I possibly can, particularly in the first half of the day. After sunset, I try to reduce artificial blue light as much as I can.

Whilst I'm not at conventional sleeping hours yet, I am definitely slowly shifting my times to the left.  I'm starting to feel sleepy earlier and waking up naturally quite a lot earlier too. The biggest improvement has been my energy levels. I feel so much more alert and energetic during the morning and daytime. I'm also feeling a lot warmer during the day, which I think is a good indication that I may be on the track to normalising my circadian rhythm.

I'm never going to be an “Early Bird” naturally waking up at 5:30am everyday, weekend or weekday. But I hope to be able to shift my sleep and waking hours to something far more reasonable – and in turn increase my daytime metabolic rate and energy levels.

I’d love to hear more about your natural sleeping patterns in the comments, below. Are you a severe night owl (DSPD) too? Do you just live with it, or have you had any success in changing it? Any nuggets of information you have on circadian rhythms – I’d really like to hear!

Five Ways to Eat Your Sunscreen paleo natural SPF UV rays vitamin D-min

Five Ways to Eat Your Sunscreen

Despite what conventional wisdom would have you believe, it is not in any way a bad thing to spend plenty of time in the sunshine – provided you don’t burn. On the contrary, it is essential to good health; it is the best (and only significant) source of Vitamin D, it ramps up serotonin (the ‘happy’ hormone), and boosts your energy and your immune system. With sunshine being so crucial to a happy and healthy life, it therefore makes no sense to stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm when you could be outside enjoying nature. It is important to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet ways – but there are certainly alternatives to the chemically laden, commercial sunscreens found at your local pharmacy.

Eat your sunscreen

Food is a powerful healer, and it turns out that certain foods protect you from the sun from the inside out by boosting your skin’s natural protection against harmful UV rays. If you burn easily, try boosting your intake of the following foods:

Brightly coloured vegetables – Brightly coloured vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and capsicum (bell peppers) should be a significant part of your diet already; but if they are not, consider increasing your consumption. These vegetables in particular are a rich source of beta carotene, which has been proven to reduce sun sensitivity and sunburn intensity.

Leafy Greens – dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach, chard and broccoli all contain high levels of the antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which protect the skin against free radical damage from UV rays.

Oily Fish – foods rich in omega 3, like mackerel, salmon and trout, are proven to guard against sunburn. If you’re not the biggest lover of fish, I’d strongly encourage you to take a high quality Omega 3 supplement. A healthy Omega 3: Omega 6 ratio has also proven to significantly reduce the risk of cancer.

Green tea – packed with antioxidants called EGCG’s which dramatically reduce the genetic mutations causes to skin cells by UV radiation. Try drinking Macha for an even more potent dose of these antioxidants.

Five Ways to Eat Your Sunscreen paleo natural SPF UV rays vitamin D-min

Natural Sun Screen

If I'm expecting to be out in the sun for an extended period of time, to further reduce my risk of burning I will often make my own sunscreen from entirely natural ingredients. It’s easy to make, is nourishing for the skin, and you’ll smell way better than anyone else at the beach! Try the following recipe to naturally protect yourself from the sun.

1 ounce raspberry seed oil – this oil, which can be found in health food and even cook shops, has a natural SPF of approximately 30

1 ounce coconut oil – not only is it nourishing and intensely moisturising, virgin coconut oil contains an SPF of approximately 10.

2 ounces shea butter – nourishes and moisturises, and protects the skin against free radicals.

2 ounces of beeswax – emulsifies, and is naturally waterproof!

15 grams Zinc Oxide – helps to reflect the harmful UVA and UVB rays

20 drops of your favourite essential oil, such as lemon grass or ginger

In order to maintain a healthy level of tolerance to the sun, it is important that you expose yourself to it frequently (and ideally, for short periods of time.) Take your lunch outside, go on long weekend walks, or take up an outdoor sport if you have the time.

What steps do you take to enjoy the sun without burning? Have you found any effective sunscreens, without all of the chemicals?

Vvitamin D solution australian book review sun

The Vitamin D Solution

I don’t wear sunscreen.  This is to the absolute horror of pretty much everyone I know.  Especially as I’m a fairly pale Brit who has moved to a considerably sunnier Australia.

I’ve been having my Vitamin D levels tested for the last year or so, and despite living in Australia – I am still not at an optimal level.  By the official standards, I’m certainly not deficient – but I want to attain an optimal, not survival, level of Vitamin D.

I’ve read a lot of books on Vitamin D, but sadly most of them are aimed at an American or British reader.  Australia covers such a vast area with significantly different latitudes – we therefore have very different sun considerations.  I’ve just got a copy of “The Vitamin D Solution” by Michael F. Holick Ph.D. M.D. and was thrilled to see it is an Australian edition.  The book contains tables identifying the latitude of all of the main areas in Australia and the equivalent safe and effective sun exposure requirements to attain sufficient Vitamin D production.  These tables are further split by skin type (with fairer skin requiring less sun than darker skin types), by time of day and then by season.

Vvitamin D solution australian book review sun


Most of my sun exposure occurs in the morning and evening on my commute.  Having read the tables I’m quite happy that I am not getting too much sun.  In fact, I’m going to wear shorts and shorter sleeves to further increase the amount of vitamin D I can produce in the mornings and evenings.

When I’ve had enough sun, I simply cover up, or get out of the sun – I much prefer these options to covering my skin in sunscreen.  There are rare occasions when it’s not so easy to avoid the sun, particularly on my face – this is the only time I wear sunscreen, as I realise burning is to be avoided at all costs.  When I do wear sunscreen, I’m really careful which one I use as many of them contain chemicals I wouldn’t want anywhere near my skin.  I also have some really good quality Vitamin D3 supplements that I take occasionally, particularly if I know I haven’t had much sun.  Hopefully these approaches will ensure I can increase my Vitamin D result the next time I have it tested.

What’s your Vitamin D/ Sunscreen approach?

Giving the Paleo Treatment to Sunglasses blue light natural health eyes sight vision sun glasses-min

Seeing Things in a Whole New Light – Giving the Paleo Treatment to Sunglasses

During the three years I've lived in Australia, I've spent a lot of time wearing Sunglasses (or, as they're more commonly known in Australia, Sunnies).  Even in the winter here, it's often very bright and sunny (even if the air is cool).  In the summer, it gets really bright and sunny.  Sunglasses – well, that's what they're for isn't it, wearing in the sunshine?

Sunglasses paleo treatment-min

The more I've found out about Paleo, the more I question other aspects of my life, sunglasses being one such example.

Whilst early examples of sunglasses have been seen as far back at the 12th century, they didn't become common until the early 1900's.  That's not even five generations ago.  Whilst correlation is certainly not causation, it is interesting to note that 25-35% of people of a European descent have Myopia (short sightedness) today, whereas a study of hunter gather tribes revealed Myopia in just 0.4% of the population (1) As well as diet, could widespread use of sunglasses be responsible for the widespread decline in eyesight?

Some estimates suggest Indigenous Australians have been here for up to 70,000 years, surviving for 69,900 without needing sunglasses?  Why are they now they essential for optical health?

Sunlight entering the eyes takes two courses – one for vision, the other goes to the hypothalamus gland.  This pathway seems to have a crucial role in the body clock, energy and hormone production (including melatonin).  It would make sense for the body to use this pathway to regulate circadian rhythms.  Circadian rhythms ensure sleep and wake cycles occur properly, and that the body is in tune with seasonality.  Therefore doesn't it stands to reason that wearing sunglasses, and reducing the sunlight entering your eyes, will impact these functions?

This would tie in with anecdotal observations I've heard that when not wearing sunglasses, people get less sunburnt, then when they do wear sunglasses.  Perhaps wearing sunglasses also leads to people staying out in the sun for longer than they would without sunglasses?

In the spirit of n=1 self experimentation, I'm going to wean off the sunglasses this summer and see what (if any) impact it has on me.  Will my new found improvements in my sleeping patterns improve further still?  Will my eyesight improve?

I'll report back in a future post any differences I've noticed.

Do you wear sunglasses?  Do you think it is foolish not to wear sunglasses throughout the Australian Summer?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, below!

Giving the Paleo Treatment to Sunglasses blue light natural health eyes sight vision sun glasses-min