During winter it's important to consider what our reduced exposure to the sun can mean for our health. One important vitamin that our body can actually make from the sun is vitamin D.
If the only warmth you're feeling when stepping outside is from your jacket, read below for all the common questions I get from clients about vitamin D:
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for many important processes in the body. Vitamin D helps to build strong bones, helps with the absorption of calcium, can lower blood pressure, can reduce the risk of heart attacks, and can help reduce symptoms of depression.
Where can I find it?
Vitamin D can be found in foods like eggs, salmon, sardines, fortified milk, fortified cereal, shrimp, and cheddar cheese. Despite its availability in foods and the ability of our bodies to make it when exposed to sunlight, nearly half of all Americans are deficient in vitamin D. One reason is because most Americans do not consume the recommended amount from foods. Also, because our bodies cannot make enough vitamin D if we spend most of our time indoors, are wearing sunscreen, have dark skin pigmentation, or if we live above 33 degrees latitude in the winter months.
How much should I be getting?
The recommended amount to consume daily for adults 18-50 years old is 600IU, and 800 IU over the age of 70. Consuming inadequate amounts can cause vitamin D deficiency. Deficiency can lead to muscle and bone pain, increase risk of fractures, increase risk of type 1 diabetes, and an increased risk for some types of cancers. However, megadoses of vitamin D over the course of time can lead to symptoms of toxicity such as buildup of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea and vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination. This is why it's essential to maintain proper intake. Both deficiency and toxicity from too much or too little vitamin D can cause unwanted side effects. It's important to maintain a healthy balance. Just like in diet, everything in moderation!
Part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle is making sure we pay attention to our needs and how they may vary over time. I highly recommend keeping vitamin D on your rotation during the winter months. I'd love to know:
How are you getting your vitamin D?
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