Getting sufficient vitamin D is important for your health. A simple blood test ordered by your doctor can confirm your body’s levels. According to a study referenced by U.S. News and World Report, as many as 91% of Americans working indoors are not receiving enough of this vitamin! 1
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. Some of those at increased risk include people with dark skins, older adults who are housebound, pregnant and breastfeeding women and those with certain medical conditions including, cystic fibrosis, liver disease, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease.
Vitamin D levels drop in the winter
Vitamin D aids in developing a healthy immune system, bones, and supports cognitive functioning. It is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the easiest method of obtaining it is to spend some time in the sun. 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.
Vitamin D is also an important steroid that functions like a hormone in the body. It regulates the functions of more than 200 genes.
Though using sunscreen is normally the safest way to enjoy the sunshine, going without it for short periods of time is the key to making your own vitamin D. Sunscreen with SPF 15 decreases the synthesis of Vitamin D by 99% when used as directed, so wait a moment or two before applying when outdoors.
Many of us avoid spending much time outdoors in the winter due to cooler temperatures, however. Thankfully, there are other ways to get this essential vitamin even when the sun isn’t shining.
How can we obtain vitamin D without sunlight?
There are two main forms of vitamin D. Vitamin D2 is from plant sources. Vitamin D3 is a more active form from animal sources. Both animals and plants receive vitamin D from sunlight exposure. Vitamin D3 may be consumed by eating meat or other animal products such as milk and cheese.
Oily fish is a great source of vitamin D to add to your diet. Oily fish includes flounder, Sockeye salmon, sole, tuna, sardines, mackerel, swordfish, sturgeon, whitefish, and rainbow trout. Just a palm-sized serving of these fish may help get anywhere from 75%- 100% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin D.
Though mushrooms are actually fungi, they are the only non-animal source of naturally occurring vitamin D. Wild mushrooms, especially those exposed to UV light have the greatest content of this essential vitamin. Around 1 cup of raw UV-exposed mushrooms meets or exceeds your daily needs.
Many grocery store items have also been fortified in vitamin D. Such items include milk, orange juice, soy milk, and yogurt.
Cod liver oil in liquid form or gel capsules is another great way to receive Vitamin D. Lastly, a supplement may also be needed to achieve healthy Vitamin D levels. Before taking supplements, always discuss them with your doctor. Find a list of our physicians at CCMHHealth.com/providers/.
1 Howley, Elaine K. U.S. News and World Report. What’s the Connection Between Vitamin D and Breast Cancer? 27 Jun. 2017.
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