Our bodies are intricately tied to the environment around us, and as the seasons change we develop different nutritional needs. In the spring and summer we benefit from the abundance of vitamins and minerals that come from fresh, local foods. We sweat more and need to hydrate, and we’re careful to avoid sunburns.
However, in the winter there are fewer fresh food options, we crave more warming foods and protein for energy, and we need to make up for lower exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin D is considered the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies produce it after skin exposure to UVB light. It plays a role in hormone regulation, immunity, and calcium absorption.
In winter, when our skin is covered and more often indoors, Vitamin D is particularly important as many of us can become deficient.
According to research, about 42% of people have inadequate levels of Vitamin D, and this deficiency can contribute to bone loss, cancer, cardiovascular disease, frequent infections or illness, depression, muscle pain, hair loss, impaired wound healing, and other symptoms.
Blood levels of at least 30 ng/mL are considered optimal.
While it may be tough to book weekly tropical getaways for the sake of your health, you can increase your bio-available levels of Vitamin D through certain foods:
- Cod liver oil
- Sardines and herring
- Raw milk
- Beef liver
Of course, we realize these are not vegan foods, and most are also impractical to consume on a daily basis. So while there are some other foods that contain Vitamin D, such as mushrooms and tofu, the amounts there would not be enough to avoid deficiency. This is where a supplement can help fill in the gaps, with recommendations ranging from 400-1000 IU per day.
The best way to maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D in winter?
Spend time outdoors, especially on sunny days!
Turn your face to the sun, expose your hands if it’s not too cold, and go for walks regularly. There are many other benefits to mild exercise outdoors in winter.
And we know what you’re all thinking, can you sunbathe indoors near a window to help your body produce Vitamin D? Nope, sorry. Most windows block out the ultraviolet light you need, so this won’t help, but it does feel good!
How are you going to take care of yourself this winter? Share with us below!