girl needing vitamin d

How to get More Vitamin D in the Winter

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/.

 

Source 

 

1 Howley, Elaine K. U.S. News and World Report. What’s the Connection Between Vitamin D and Breast Cancer? 27 Jun. 2017.

 

Disclaimer 

 

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

 

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

 

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

older couple at park

Health Risks of Excessive Vitamin D Levels

Without Vitamin D, the body cannot absorb calcium. Therefore, the body cannot then create healthy teeth and bones. Another benefit of this essential nutrient is warding off cancer as well as diabetes. New research shows negative effects for receiving too much vitamin D, however. 

 

How do we receive vitamin D?

 

When sunlight reaches the skin, our bodies synthesize vitamin D. We can also receive it from sardines, salmon, canned tuna, shrimp and oysters. Non-fish sources include mushrooms, egg yolks, and fortified food products such as cereal, soy milk and oatmeal.

 

Skin pigmentation, where we live and season are all factors that affect the amount of this nutrient our bodies produce. During winter, vitamin D levels can drop drastically if not be missing from the body completely. 

 

What are the risks of low vitamin D levels?

 

Besides those already mentioned, deficiency of this vitamin may play a part in conditions such as dementia, depression and schizophrenia. 

 

Older adults may especially be at risk of developing some conditions when vitamin D levels are not up to par. Some older adults struggle to absorb the nutrient due to lack of sun exposure.  When this is the case, a supplement or a multivitamin can improve memory and boost bone health.

 

How much vitamin D do I need at each age? 

 

These are the recommended daily amounts  according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH): 1

 

Infants 400 IU

Children age 1-13 600 IU

Teens age 14-18 600 IU

Adults age 19-70 600 IU

Adults 71 and older 800 IU

Pregnant and breastfeeding moms 600 IU

 

What are the risks of excessive vitamin D levels?

 

While vitamin D is crucial to good health, risks exists for excessive exposure as well. Researchers at Rutgers University found that older women who took more than three times the recommended daily dose who were also overweight showed slower reaction times. 2 Slower reaction times can lead to serious injuries for the elderly from falls. 

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 1 out of 4 elderly adults fall each year. 3 Scientists at Rutgers University studied the risk factors for falls. After analyzing the effects of vitamin D on three groups of women from ages 50–70 in a randomized controlled trial, they found improvement in memory and learning in those that took more than the recommended daily dose. However, these women also showed slower reaction times.

 

Examining various doses in people of various ages and different races over a longer period is the next step in investigating this issue. 

 

CCMH is proud to have a variety of general practitioners and specialists to meet your health needs as you age. To find a list of them, visit CcmhHealth.com/Directory.

 

Sources 

 

1 National Institute of Health. Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Consumers. 15 April 2016. 

2 Rutgers Today. More Vitamin D May Improve Memory but Too Much May Slow Reaction Time. 13 March 2019. 

3 Center of Disease Control (CDC).  Important Facts about Falls.

 

Disclaimer 

 

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.