How to Get Enough Vitamin D in the Winter

Senior woman enjoying a warm drink on a cold day

Your body needs vitamin D to stay healthy and fight infections. While there are a number of ways to get vitamin D, the majority is produced by the body in response to the absorption of UVB rays from the sun. With shorter days, it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D in the wintertime. Vitamin D supports essential functions like immunity and helps maintain brain, heart, and bone health.  

Levels of vitamin D that are too low are linked to a number of health conditions including seasonal affective disorder, muscle and bone loss, increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

The good news is there are ways to make sure you get enough vitamin D in the winter months:

Eat right

While we get most of our vitamin D from sun exposure, your diet can also help. Foods such as fatty fish are rich in vitamin D. For example, a single serving of canned tuna contains about one-third of the recommended daily intake. Egg yolks, mushrooms, spinach, and soybeans also provide vitamin D, as does vitamin D-fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and yogurt.  

Get fresh air

In the wintertime daylight saving time, the angle of the sun, and colder temperatures make it more difficult to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure, but every bit helps. If possible, try to get outside each day to take a walk. Just 20 minutes of sun several times a week can make a difference.

Consider a supplement

Sunlight and good food choices are the best way to get vitamin D, but a vitamin D supplement can also help. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning to take a supplement. Your doctor can recommend a dose that will be the most effective for you. 

What about a light box?

Light therapy boxes that provide artificial light can help protect against seasonal affective disorder. Although some of the more expensive models are able to help raise your vitamin D levels, most light boxes won’t actually increase your vitamin D. However, they can be effective to help improve your mood during the darker winter months.   

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