Vitamin D during Winter: How to Avoid Deficiency in the Coming Months

 

We’re well into the fall season.

Temperatures are lowering, daylight hours are decreasing, and winter will soon arrive.

During this cozy season, you might find it tempting to stay indoors, curled up by the fire with a hot cup of tea and a good book.

But here’s what you need to realize…

The winter months pose a threat to your vitamin D levels.

Because you produce this nutrient from sun exposure, getting vitamin D in the winter can be a bit tricky—given the increased amount of indoor time.

If you’re wondering how to maintain your vitamin D levels in the upcoming months, keep on reading.

In this article, I’m sharing three ways to keep vitamin D levels healthy during the winter season.

1. Get Outside during the Winter Months

This is perhaps the most straightforward way to support healthy vitamin D levels—and it’s a powerful one.

According to an abstract from a recently published study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health…

“Sun exposure levels prevent winter vitamin D deficiency in 95% of healthy white adults and 83% of adolescents.”

While getting outside may seem less appealing as the temperatures begin to drop, here are a few suggestions I have:

  1. Take advantage of temperature spikes. If you live in the Carolinas (especially if you’re in Charlotte), you know for a fact that our winter weather doesn’t always stay below 32℉. Between now and spring, we’ll likely enjoy mild days where temps are in the 60s. I encourage you to check your weekly forecast and take advantage of these temperature spikes for outdoor activities.
  2. Go for a walk on your lunchtime break. Perhaps you work an 8-to-5 job and are accustomed to getting outdoors in the evening. With daylight waning, it might be difficult to maintain your vitamin D during the winter. If this describes your situation, consider taking a walk on your lunch break. You’ll enjoy warmer temperatures and a good dose of sunlight.
  3. Put outdoor activities on your schedule. One reason it’s challenging to enjoy nature during winter is a lack of planning. Inclement weather and Christmas cookie exchanges can quickly put the great outdoors on the back burner. I’d encourage you to purposefully place outside activities on your calendar. For instance, reserve that Saturday afternoon to play football with the kids…or go on a walk in the park.

2. Consider Using Light Therapy

When it comes to maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D during winter (and even fall), the reality is…

Some people don’t have the luxury to bask in the sun.

For instance, perhaps you’re an RN who works the night shift, or maybe you’re acutely sensitive to the cold.

Whatever your situation is, you may want to consider light therapy.

Important note: Before trying any therapy, consult your doctor first to discuss risks and the best treatment for your situation.

Research has shown that UV light therapy supports vitamin D serum concentrations during winter. (You can also check out this article for another example of how UV light therapy may help your production of vitamin D.)

If you find that circumstances have limited your time outside, I’d recommend consulting your doctor about jumpstarting vitamin D production with light therapy.

3. Eat Foods That Contain Vitamin D

Last but certainly not least, be sure your nutrition provides vitamin D during winter months…and all throughout the year.

Always remember: healthy foods are a primary source for the vitamins you need.

In fact, if you’re relying on store-bought vitamins to support your health, you need to radically transform your diet.

The good news is, the National Institutes of Health has published a list of foods that contain vitamin D. These include the following:

  • Cod liver oil
  • Salmon
  • Canned tuna
  • Liver from beef
  • Eggs

Adding healthy fish and protein to your diet is the perfect way to supplement your other efforts to maintain vitamin D levels.

But while you’re adding vitamin D foods to your diet…

Make sure your grocery list supports your gut health and overall well-being.

After all, it makes no sense to stock up on cod liver oil…while you’re still eating sugary, inflammatory foods that damage your digestive system.

To make wise menu choices, check out my article 5 Gut-Cleansing Foods to Add to Your Plate for tips to maintain a healthy gut.

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