Vitamin D is a common deficiency in many people, especially indoor athletes and during the wintertime. It is an important compound in our body and plays a role in many different functions. This blog tells you how to get vitamin D in the winter and if you should take vitamin D. We also included some tips while letting you know why it is so important to include!
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found in few foods and the sunlight! The majority of us get our vitamin D by standing outside during the hot, summer months and little bits from food that we may eat regularly.
The vitamin D that we get from the sun comes from the UV light that hits our skin and then is absorbed in the form of cholecalciferol or D3. D2 that you may see in supplements is the form that is produced by plants and fungi.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 600 IU (15 mcg) for adults 19+.
What are the Functions of Vitamin D?
- Help in the retention of calcium and phosphorus, which are involved in bone formation.
- Immunity support
- Prevent cancer cell growth
- Help improve depression symptoms
Where Do I get Vitamin D?
As I mentioned above, the majority of the Vitamin D we get is from the sun. However, there are some food sources that you can prioritize during times when you may not be getting as much sun as you usually do:
- Rainbow Trout: 645 IU
- Salmon: 570 IU
- ½ cup white mushrooms: 366 IU
- Fortified cow’s milk: 120 IU
- Fortified plant milk: 100-144 IU
- Egg Yolk: 37 IU
Vitamin D in the Wintertime
During the winter, vitamin D levels logically drop in people as we are covering our skin more and the sun is less likely to be out. There is a way to get the majority of our vitamin D from food, but it can be difficult if you don’t like the things on the list above or you have a deficiency.
Recovering from a deficiency can take time and high doses of supplements. Making sure you are being consistent with your vitamin D is important and get the sunshine when you can!
Three Tips to Get Your Vitamin D in the Winter
You may be worried that you are deficient in vitamin D since it is the thick of winter and we still have months to go. Here are some tips to keep your vitamin D levels at normal levels.
Buy Fortified Milks
Fortified milk is a great way to constantly have a serving of vitamin D in your day. Choosing it helps to not have to consider making a meal centered around getting your daily intake. You can find it at any grocery store, and there are plant milk options as well. If you are choosing a plant-based milk or a low-fat milk, make sure to pair it with a fat source. This is because vitamin D needs to be paired with a fat to be absorbed!
Supplementation may be important if you play an indoor sport and aren’t outside regularly. This means that you may not be getting enough in the warmer months, which can lead to a chronic deficiency. I recommend that you get your blood levels checked at the doctor before taking any supplements. They or a dietitian can help figure out the correct dosage for you!
Get Outside as Much as You Can
Even though it is cold and you may not feel like going outside for periods of time, if the sun is out, try and get as much sun time as you can! Having some of your arms and legs exposed to the sun will help you get the most out of your time outside. The sun is the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. so getting outside in those times will be most effective.
If you aren’t convinced yet, vitamin D is super important and it may be something you aren’t getting enough of. Knowing that vitamin D plays a role in many functions, including bone health and mood regulation, it is a good thing to prioritize in the wintertime as sunshine is not readily available.
If you are looking for three easy tips to get vitamin D when it may not seem super easy I would say to buy fortified milk, supplement, and get outside as much as you can.
You may have just been diagnosed with a deficiency or are concerned with your levels and we are here to help! Applying for our 1:1 coaching can ensure you get the personalized support you need from a Registered Sports Dietitian!