Is Your Body Getting Enough Vitamin D During The Winter?
This long, cold season causes many people to become vitamin D deficient, due to reduced sun exposure and poor dietary intake. So the winter season is a critical time for supplementing vitamin D. Why is that?
Let’s begin with the basics…
What Is Vitamin D?
We produce vitamin D naturally when exposed to sunlight, which is why it is known as the “Sunshine Vitamin.” Vitamin D aids in calcium and phosphorous absorption, which promotes skeletal strength, bone health, and bone density. As well as supporting immune wellness and neuromuscular health, vitamin D has also been found to support cellular activity.
Why Are So Many People Deficient In Vitamin D?
In 2009, a study was published by the University of Colorado’s Denver School of Medicine. Study results found that 75% of Americans do not get enough vitamin D, and teenage girls and women were the demographics with the lowest levels. Vitamin D deficiency is also often seen in the elderly, especially those living in nursing homes.
The reason why vitamin D deficiency cases increase during the cold winter months is because we stay indoors to keep out of the cold, instead of spending time in the sunlight. Often a lack of fish in your diet will also cause your vitamin D levels to decrease.
Why Supplement Vitamin D?
While sunlight helps our bodies produce vitamin D, the sun can also cause problems. The sun emits harmful UV rays, exposing yourself to too much sunlight can cause other health problems. If you cannot get enough sunlight each day and keep your vitamin D levels up, you will need to add a vitamin D supplement to your diet.
In a 2004 report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis, the Surgeon General stated: “The Surgeon General wants you to know that you can improve your bone health by getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and physical activity.” We can do this by increasing vitamin D absorption through diet and supplementation.
The natural ability of our bodies to produce and absorb vitamin D declines as you get older. There are two forms of vitamin D, D2, also known as ergocalciferol, commonly found in supplements and foods, and D3 also known as cholecalciferol. Due to its bioavailability, this form is recommended for older individuals as it is much easier for the body to absorb. The availability of Vitamin D3 supplements has increased greatly over the past few years.
What Are Some Food Sources Of Vitamin D?
Cod liver oil, cold water fish (such as mackerel, salmon, and herring), butter, and egg yolks are naturally rich in vitamin D. Sometimes vitamin D2 is added to foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and breakfast cereal.
Vegetables are sadly low in vitamin D, but when it comes to veggie-D dark green, leafy vegetables are best. Additionally, sun-exposed mushrooms like maitake and portabella mushrooms contain vitamin D. Individual mushrooms contain varying amounts of vitamin D based on the amount of sunshine they have received.
What are your methods of getting vitamin D throughout the year, specifically during the winter?
Do you have any recipes that incorporate foods rich in vitamin D?
Let us know!