- Vitamin D supports essential functions like immunity and helps maintain brain, heart, and bone health.
- Because sunshine is the best source of vitamin D, it can be hard to get enough in the winter.
- To counteract your lack of sun exposure, consider eating foods fortified with vitamin D, oily fish, and mushrooms.
Getting enough vitamin D is crucial to staying fit. It plays a vital role in bone health, the immune system, and cognitive functioning. Unfortunately, up to 70% of people may not be getting enough of this important vitamin.
Though the easiest and cheapest way to get your daily dose of vitamin D is spend some time in the sun, exposing your skin to the elements can be an unpleasant prospect in the winter.
Luckily, there are ways to make sure your vitamin D levels stay in a healthy range even when the sun isn’t shining.
First of all, here are the basics of vitamin D
Vitamin D is often called “the sunshine vitamin,” but it’s actually a steroid that acts like a hormone in the body. Vitamin D regulates the functions of over 200 genes and is essential for our growth, development, and ongoing health.
Because vitamin D is involved in supporting essential functions like immunity and cancer prevention, as well as neurological, cardiovascular, and bone health, it’s easy to see just how dangerous falling short can be.
There are actually two main forms of vitamin D found in food. Vitamin D3 is the more active form and found only from animal sources. Vitamin D2 is from plant sources. Both animals and plants need sunlight or UV exposure in order to produce vitamin D.
People should aim to get a minimum of 600 to 800 IU’s of vitamin D per day. However, many healthcare practitioners feel that higher amounts, commonly 1000 to 2000 IU’s or more, are beneficial.
It only takes a few minutes of sun exposure to keep your vitamin D levels healthy
Cold weather will leave you wanting to bundle up, but any opportunity you get to bare a little skin during the winter will help make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. The best way to get vitamin D is from sunlight exposure, about 20 to 30 minutes, three times per week without sunscreen for those with fair skin and longer for those with darker skin.
Certain people should consider taking a vitamin D supplement
Depending on where you live in the world and what kind of lifestyle you lead, you may be at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency.
A daily supplement might be needed for those that don’t get enough vitamin D such as older adults who are housebound, people with dark skins, pregnant and breastfeeding women and those with certain medical conditions including liver disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.
Additionally, anyone who wears clothing that covers most of their skin when outdoors may not be getting enough sun exposure to make their own vitamin D and should consider taking a supplement.