Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin,” and although it has a cute nickname, it is essential to our overall health.
Vitamin D helps the body use Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphate, among other nutrients, by increasing the absorption of these into our body.
The most common way people get their daily dose of Vitamin D is through the sun. Our body naturally absorbs Vitamin D from UVB rays from the sun. Because people are outside less in the cold months, an increase in Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent among colder climates in the winter months.
“While there are food sources rich in vitamin D, it’s difficult to consume enough of these foods to maintain adequate Vitamin D levels,” stated Kelli Phelan, registered dietitian at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin.
“The sun truly is the best source of Vitamin D. For people living in places with colder winter months, it’s a good idea to have your levels checked and consider supplementing with 400-2000 IUs daily, or as your doctor sees fit.”
Because people in colder places do not receive as much sun exposer from November to March, on top of the fact people spend more time indoors during these times, finding alternate ways to get enough Vitamin D is important. Planning vacations and trips to southern states and warmer areas is one way to obtain more Vitamin D, but that is not always feasible for everyone.
Vitamin D is found in many foods, such as fish liver oils, salmon, egg yolks, fortified grains and fortified dairy products. Taking a Vitamin D supplement is also possible, if necessary. It is important to meet with your doctor and have lab tests done to check Vitamin D levels periodically. Using tanning beds to obtain Vitamin D from the UVB rays is not recommended and is not safe.