By: Amanda Blount
It is around this time of the year where Daylight Saving Time means you can start getting excited about an extra hour of sleep, but it comes with a drawback: your exposure of sunlight decreases. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble, necessary nutrient that our skin synthesizes when exposed to the sun. With the sun is the major natural provider, a decrease of sunshine due to shorter days and cooler weather means that winter can be a serious problem for people with vitamin D deficiency.
Depending on your location sunlight may be an issue. Through sunlight exposure, the body is designed to change vitamin D into a substance called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Your body must have vitamin D to absorb calcium, promote bone growth and regulate other body functions. But, winter months can be harsh enough to keep people indoors, limiting your body’s ability to produce the calcium you need for optimal health.
Due to the winter season, the body’s ability to produce the ideal vitamin D levels may already be subdued. This is a concern because you become at risk for a weakened immune system, rickets, or the development of bone abnormalities such as soft bones and fragile bones if your body doesn’t get adequate vitamin D.
While being mindful of UV radiation, thirty minutes of sun exposure to the face, back, or legs at least twice a week can provide you with a sufficient amount of vitamin D. If you find yourself in a place where direct sunlight isn’t a possibility, there are two alternate methods of fulfilling your body’s vitamin D needs. These include food and supplementation. Foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D are fatty fish, eggs yolks, liver, and cheese. They are perfect to add to your diet during the colder, cloudier months of the year.
If you follow a plant-based diet or simply aren’t getting enough vitamin D from your dietary intake, you may need to look to supplementation and fortified foods. Cereals, yogurt, and orange juice are commonly found with added vitamin D, and there are a number of types of non-dairy milk that offer fortified options as well.
Vitamins D2 and D3 two great forms of vitamin D to look out for, although D3 is more commonly recommended because it is the naturally occurring form of vitamin D found in the body. While time-of-day doesn’t seem to have much impact on the absorption of this supplement, it is fat-soluble which means your body will make better use of it if taken with a meal.
As Daylight Saving Time approaches, don’t forget to be sure you’re getting the vitamin D you need for optimal health this holiday season!