Vitamin D has many important functions in the body: regulating moods, building healthy bones, and improving the immune system. Unlike most vitamins, humans actually get vitamin D primarily from the sun. During exposure to sunlight, the skin synthesizes vitamin D in a photosynthetic reaction to UV radiation.
However, winter’s shorter days and colder temperatures usually mean less time in the sun. Plus, in northern climates, the sun’s rays are weaker during the winter. The result? The skin produces less vitamin D, causing depression, fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia.
But don’t worry! There are ways to make sure that you’re getting enough vitamin D this winter. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of vitamin D, and how to get enough when it’s cold outside.
The Benefits of Vitamin D
Adequate vitamin D levels are absolutely critical to maintaining long term health. Here’s just a few of the reasons why you should make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D:
Vitamin D improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which is the reason why you see it added to so many dairy products! By helping with calcium absorption, adequate vitamin D levels contribute to healthy bones.
Vitamin D also encourages to the production of serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin regulates moods, while melatonin regulates the sleep cycle. Without enough vitamin D, we may suffer from anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Vitamin D provides many benefits for the skin as well. Vitamin D contributes to skin cell growth, making vitamin D essential for maintaining healthy skin. Vitamin D is an effective treatment for eczema, and itchy skin condition which often plagues people during the cold, dry winter months. Its anti-inflammatory properties can also reduce acne, which is why minor acne cases often clear up with exposure to sunlight. Finally, vitamin D acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals that contribute to fine lines and wrinkles.
Tips for Getting Enough Vitamin D
- Get Outside!
The most effective way to get enough vitamin D is to brave the cold and go outdoors for 20 minutes every day. Bundle up during your lunch break and take a brisk walk! You may be surprised that the temperatures don’t feel so cold when you’re exercising. Experts also recommend skipping your sunglasses for at least 10 minutes for more mood- and sleep-regulating benefits.
- Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin D
You can also eat your way to better vitamin D levels. Try adding the following vitamin D-rich foods to your diet:
Wild-caught oily fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna
Fortified dairy products
Fortified orange juice
- Take a Supplement
Unfortunately, it may be difficult to eat your way to healthy vitamin D levels. If this is the case, try supplementing your diet by taking vitamin D capsules. Experts recommend taking 2,000 to 3,000 IU of D3 supplements each day to experience the benefits of vitamin D (https://www.allure.com/story/vitamin-d-myths-facts).
How do you make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D during the winter? Let us know in the comments!
Written by: Colleen Welsch