Vitamin D: A Winter Must Have

by Jessica B. February 15th, 2012 | Vitamins
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As you take in less and less sunlight, it might be time to look into taking a Vitamin D supplement, if you aren’t doing so already.

Why vitamin D? Some studies have linked vitamin D deficiency with everything from osteoporosis to cardiac disease. Others connect seasonal depression with a decrease in amount of vitamin D in the system. Vitamin D has also been linked to cancer prevention.

We take in vitamin D from a large variety of natural sources, most notably the sun! According to some studies it takes as little as 10 minutes in the sun, if you are fair skinned, during peak hours, to get your daily dose of vitamin D. But there is a bit of a catch-22, because you absorb more vitamin D if you don’t wear sun block. So what do if you are someone who burns easily or is at risk for skin disease?

You might try going outdoors for a longer period of time during off-peak hours. An end of the day walk can get you some much needed exercise and help you get your daily dose of vitamin D. But let’s face it, when the weather gets colder, it can be hard to spend time outside.

You can also fulfill your vitamin D needs through diet. Fatty fish is a great source of vitamin D. If you eat salmon, tuna, and mackerel, you are already getting a good dose of vitamin D. Eggs and Portobello mushrooms are also a great source. If you drink milk or eat breakfast cereal, chances are they are fortified with vitamin D. While this cannot directly be counted as a natural source, you should take them into account when determining how much vitamin D you should be taking.

You can take  additional vitamin D if your daily multivitamin does not contain a large dose, or if you aren’t taking a multivitamin. While you cannot overdose on vitamin D from the sun, you should be careful about taking more than 4,000 I.U.’s of vitamin D per day. Long-term side effects can cause health problems especially when combined with excessive calcium.

Some doctors recommend taking a D supplement year round, and if you are someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time outdoors, this might be optimal. But even if you lead an active outdoor lifestyle, you should probably consider Vitamin D in the winter. If you are well-covered in winter gear, and the sun is low in the sky, chances are you might be missing out on your daily dose of vitamin D.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.