Vitamin D in the Winter

I have mentioned over the years the importance of having a variety of vitamins and minerals as a part of one’s daily diet regimen. One vitamin we don’t get enough of is Vitamin D. Unlike many other vitamins, Vitamin D is not found in most foods. It is made in the body by exposure to sunlight.

Since winter is upon us, it is important to take a look at factors affecting our Vitamin D status. What affects our vitamin D intake when there is not as much direct sunlight? A recent study at Emory University used twins in different geographical areas in North America to determine influences on Vitamin D levels. You can read the article here:

The study found that Vitamin D status in winter is largely due to genetic factors, whereas other factors, such as lifestyle choices and sun exposure affect it more in the summer. Synthesis of Vitamin D can be influenced by skin color, genetics and sun exposure. There is also more research needed on the topic. However, we can impact the amount of Vitamin D we get by making good healthy choices.

There are ways of getting more Vitamin D into our diets, especially in winter. Take a stroll during lunchtime or early afternoon when there is more sunlight.  You should get sun exposure on bare skin without sunscreen for 15-20 minutes a day. This will help your body absorb more vitamin D. Add more fatty fish to your diet; some varieties are rich in Vitamin D. Also, fortified cereals and juices can provide additional Vitamin D. Still, those foods are not enough, so I recommend taking Vitamin D3 in supplement form – 1000 IU per day.

It is known that increased levels of Vitamin D can strengthen bones, give protection against some cancers, may reduce heart disease risk and support a healthy immune system.

Addendum:            Just this week, there was an announcement that suggested a doubling of previously recommended supplementation for Vitamin D up to 600 IU per day was recommended.  There was also discussion about the lack of evidence to support the use of higher doses or to prove the existence of Vitamin D deficiency in the population.  As always, research takes time.  However, it is simple to get your level of Vitamin D tested with a blood test.  If you are low, you should take supplements.