31/01/2019 by George Morris physiotherapy Wigan 0 Comments
The best ways to get vitamin D in the winter
George Morris physio Wigan
6 of the best ways to get vitamin D in the winter
Vitamin D supports essential functions like immunity and helps maintain brain, heart, and bone health.
Because sunshine is the best source of vitamin D, it can be hard to get enough in the winter.
To counteract your lack of sun exposure, consider eating foods fortified with vitamin D, oily fish, and mushrooms.
Getting enough vitamin D is crucial to staying fit. It plays a vital role in bone health, the immune system, and cognitive functioning. Unfortunately, up to 77% of people in the US may not be getting enough of this important vitamin.
Though the easiest and cheapest way to get your daily dose of vitamin D is spend some time in the sun, exposing your skin to the elements can be an unpleasant prospect in the winter.
Luckily, there are ways to make sure your vitamin D levels stay in a healthy range even when the sun isn't shining. INSIDER consulted with doctors and nutritionists to find out the best ways to get vitamin D during the winter.
First of all, here are the basics of vitamin D
Vitamin D is often called "the sunshine vitamin," but it's actually a steroid that acts like a hormone in the body. Vitamin D regulates the functions of over 200 genes and is essential for our growth, development, and ongoing health.
"Because vitamin D is involved in supporting essential functions like immunity and cancer prevention, as well as neurological, cardiovascular, and bone health, it's easy to see just how dangerous falling short can be," Dr. Frank Lipman, MD, told INSIDER.
There are actually two main forms of vitamin D found in food. Vitamin D3 is the more active form and found only from animal sources. Vitamin D2 is from plant sources. Both animals and plants need sunlight or UV exposure in order to produce vitamin D.
"People should aim to get a minimum of 600 to 800 IU's of vitamin D per day. However, many healthcare practitioners feel that higher amounts, commonly 1000 to 2000 IU's or more, are beneficial," integrative physician Dr. Arlene Dijamco, MD, explained to INSIDER.
Cold weather will leave you wanting to bundle up, but any opportunity you get to bare a little skin during the winter will help make sure you're getting enough vitamin D.
"The best way to get vitamin D is from sunlight exposure, about 20 to 30 minutes, three times per week without sunscreen for those with fair skin and longer for those with darker skin," advised Dr. Dijamco.
An unusually warm day or weekend trip to a sunnier clime are great opportunities to soak up some rays. And though wearing sunscreen is normally the healthiest way to enjoy the sunshine, going without protection for just a few minutes 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.
Fatty or oily fish are a great source of vitamin D
If you're a fan of seafood, oily fish can be an amazing source of vitamin D. Sockeye salmon, mackerel, flounder, sole, swordfish, whitefish, sturgeon and rainbow trout.
"Each palm-sized serving of these fish will help you get 75% to 100% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin D. As a bonus, you'll also get a dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which are the kind that are essential for our body & help fight inflammation," registered dietician Tyffanie Ammeter told INSIDER.
If you're looking for budget-friendly fish options, try canned light tuna and sardines. Both are versatile, shelf-stable and easy to prepare, making them convenient for snacks and lunches.
Mushrooms are rich in ergosterol (a Vitamin D precursor) which converts to provitamin D2. The enzymes in our body then convert this into the active form of Vitamin D, " explained triple-board-certified physician Monisha Bhanote, MD, FASCP, FCAP.
"Shiitake mushrooms are a vegan and vegetarian-friendly source of Vitamin D. So not only are they a source of Vitamin D, but they also boost the immune system, improve gut immunity, contain antimicrobial effects, support cardiovascular health, and promote brain function."
Though mushrooms are technically fungi, not plants, they're the only non-animal source of naturally occurring vitamin D.
"Wild mushrooms and those that are exposed to UV light have the highest vitamin D content. All it takes is about the 1 cup of raw UV-exposed mushrooms to meet or exceed your daily vitamin D needs," said Ammeter.
Regularly munching on brown cremini, portabella, maitake and white button mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light is a great way to get non-animal vitamin D.
Cod liver oil is packed with vitamin D
Some people aren't crazy about the fishy taste, but cod liver oil is actually loaded with vitamin D.
"Old-fashioned cod liver oil is concentrated with a whopping 1300 IU's of vitamin D per tablespoon and contains the antioxidant vitamin A as well omega-3s," said Dr. Dijamco.
You can buy cod liver oil in liquid form as well as flavored gel capsules. However, don't confuse cod liver oil with regular omega-3 fish oil supplements - these may not have the same vitamin D content as cod liver oil.
Though some foods are naturally high in vitamin D, there are plenty of grocery store items that have been given a vitamin D boost. These include both plant-based and animal products.
"Fortified foods that are high in vitamin D include orange juice, milk, yogurt, soy milk, and other non-dairy milk alternatives. These beverages go through a fortification process where vitamin D is added to them," licensed dietitian and nutritionist Melissa Giovanni told INSIDER.
And if you're looking for a quick hit of vitamin D and protein, cooking up an egg or two will give you between approximately 44 IUs of vitamin D.
"Besides being a complete protein and providing several B-vitamins and minerals like selenium, eggs also contain a decent amount of vitamin D. Eggs are easily the most versatile and inexpensive vitamin D source," Ammeter said.
Because vitamin D is actually a fat-soluble vitamin, the fatty acids and saturated fat in egg yolks help your body absorb the vitamin. This is also why it's a good idea to eat other sources of vitamin D with a side of fat like avocado, butter, or a plant-based oil.Certain people should consider taking a vitamin D supplement
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.
"A daily supplement might be needed for those that don't get enough vitamin D such as older adults who are housebound, people with dark skins, pregnant and breastfeeding women and those with certain medical conditions including liver disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease and Crohn's disease," Louise Payne, registered nutritionist with Spoon Guru, told INSIDER.
Additionally, 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 and should consider taking a supplement.