As winter approaches, the days get colder, darker, and windier. This means that more people spend more time indoors trying to stay warm and doing everything they can to avoid the cold. Although it’s understandable that you need to stay indoors –after all, the winter cold can be severe- you also need a way of getting enough vitamin D.
Apart from the obvious benefits that vitamin D provides –such as fighting off seasonal affective disorder and delaying cognitive decline- it helps regulate and improve the absorption of phosphates and calcium from your meals. This way, your muscles and bones will stay strong and healthy. A lack of strong bones provided by these nutrients means that you will have soft and tender bones.
This is probably one of the reasons why, as people age, their bones become softer –as most people spend way more time inside than outside. Of course, age does make the body a bit weaker, but elderly folk who are not vitamin D deficient tend to have comparatively stronger bones than those who do not get enough of the vitamin. So, what can you do to get more vitamin D during the winter?
Go Out in the Winter Sun
The best and most effective way to get vitamin D is from exposure to sunlight. Yet, in spite of the abundant sunlight in the summer, 42 percent of the population is vitamin D deficient. But during the winter, the UVB rays aren’t as much as they are during the summer.
And although there’s always the risk of hypothermia, a little bit of exposure won’t. To improve your odds of absorbing as much vitamin D from the winter sun as possible, avoid putting on any SPF products. Skincare experts and dermatologists often recommend that you put on some SPF lotion during the summer.
That’s because it’s often very hot. But the winter sun isn’t. Therefore, this negates the idea of excessive sun exposure. Whenever you can during the winter, go outside in the mornings or midday when the sun is out and spend a few minutes basking in the sunlight –15 minutes at midday is the ideal length of time.
And you don’t need to be without clothing. Just expose your hands or forearms –leave the gloves on to avoid getting frostbite- neck, and face. That’s enough to get you enough vitamin D.
Eat Vitamin D Rich Foods
Some foods are rich in vitamin D. Some examples of these foods are wild salmon, mackerel, tuna, eggs, mushrooms, and milk. For instance, a 4-ounce serving of salmon will provide you with 265 percent of your daily vitamin D requirement.
And since it can be stored in the body, it means that eating this quantity of salmon 2-3 times a week will meet your weekly vitamin D requirements. Make sure to take these in good quantity on days when you can’t go out in the sun.
These foods provide alternative vitamin D sources that can help keep your bone strong and improve your moods in the process. If you live in places that are particularly cold, dreary, and dark during the winter, it is important to stock up on these foods at all times.
Take Vitamin D3 Supplements
While vitamin D3 supplements are largely recommended for people who can’t get any sun –photosensitive people, housebound folks, and babies under 12 months- you should still take them whenever the other sources of vitamin D are unavailable.
This is particularly important if you are lactose-intolerant or allergic to fish. Remember that vitamin D is a micronutrient, which means you only need to take it in pretty small quantities. The recommended daily vitamin D dose for people aged 1-70 years is about 600 IU/day. Older individuals need 800 IU/day. So, you need to make sure that your vitamin D supplements are around that dosage daily.
However, studies have shown that people who are deficient in the vitamin might need as much as 1000 IU/day. Speak with your doctor about this if you feel like you may be deficient –you can usually tell by how little sunlight you’re getting.
In conclusion, seek the midday sun during winter. If that’s not available, get your vitamin D from fish, milk, and other sources. If you’re allergic to those, just take supplements. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, you need adequate fat to digest it. If you have a health condition that impairs your fat absorption capabilities –e.g. inflammatory bowel conditions like ulcerative colitis and liver disease- you should speak to your doctor and learn more about the optimal vitamin D dosage you’ll need.