Do you need to increase your vitamin D intake during the winter?

During the winter, you may need to increase your dose of vitamin D.

Vitamin D keeps your body healthy in many ways. Your muscles, nerves, and bones all depend on nutrients to function. It also helps strengthen the immune system.

You can get vitamin D from a variety of foods and from sun exposure. But the latter does have some rules.

For example, enjoying sunlight at home and sitting by the window on a sunny day has a different effect than enjoying it outdoors.

This is largely why vitamin D deficiency is more pronounced during the cold, dark winter months.

Dr. Marie van der Merwe, coordinator of the Ph.D. program in Applied Physiology and Nutrition at the University of Memphis, tells us that this deficiency may be exacerbated by the lack of sunlight. healthy. In winter, this situation becomes more obvious.

At this time of year, it’s worth considering getting vitamin D from other sources, such as diet or supplements.

Here’s how much vitamin D you need and what to consider before adding a supplement to your daily routine.

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Getting enough vitamin D has several noteworthy health benefits.

For the most part, we think of vitamin D as good for bones [health]. If you don’t have enough vitamin D, you may develop osteoporosis, van der Merwe says.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and helps prevent osteoporosis, which weakens bones.

In addition, vitamin D is needed for nerves to carry messages between the brain and body, and it helps the immune system fight viruses and bacteria. This nutrient also aids in muscle movement. A deficiency can cause muscle weakness and pain.

The following are recommended daily intakes of vitamin D:

  • People 19 to 70 years old: 15 micrograms, or 600 international units
  • People 71 and older: 20 micrograms, or 800 international units

Many people don’t get enough vitamin D year-round.

A study using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that 40.9% of 71,685 participants surveyed from 2001 to 2018 were vitamin D deficient. 2.6% of participants were severely deficient in vitamin D; 22% were moderately deficient.

Certain groups of people are more likely to have low vitamin D levels, including:

  • elderly
  • Obese people
  • People who have had gastric bypass surgery
  • People with conditions such as liver disease, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis and Crohn’s disease

A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about 19% of adults take vitamin D supplements.

Van der Merwe explains that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency may be attributed to the availability of vitamin D sources.

The problem with vitamin D, she says, is that it’s hard to get it from our diets because there aren’t many foods that contain it.

Fatty fish such as trout, tuna, salmon and mackerel liver oil are the best sources of vitamin D, while egg yolks, cheese, beef liver and mushrooms also contain small amounts.

In addition, many breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D, as are some milks, yogurts and orange juices.

For reference, 3 ounces of salmon contains 570 IU of vitamin D. One cup of 2% fortified vitamin D milk contains 120 IU. One large scrambled egg contains 44 IU of the micronutrient.

However, in general, Americans do not get enough vitamin D in their diet. And, vitamin D deficiency may only get worse in the winter.

Pieter Cohen, MD, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, tells us that although vitamin D deficiency is common, you don’t necessarily need a supplement unless your doctor recommends it. healthy.

It’s not something people should feel obligated to accept, he said.We do not recommend healthy people [who have no evidence of a vitamin D deficiency] Even in northern latitudes, take vitamin D during the winter.

If you’re already taking supplements, Cohen doesn’t recommend increasing your dose during the winter, nor does he recommend starting supplements just in the winter.

However, he explains that it’s OK to add a vitamin D supplement to your daily routine if you’re willing and will stick to the recommended dosage.

Cohen says it’s completely safe as long as you stick to the recommended daily intake, but that’s key.

It is possible to take too much vitamin D; vitamin D poisoning can cause drowsiness, confusion, abdominal pain, vomiting, and weakness. If symptoms worsen, confusion, agitation, and even coma may occur.

If you don’t want to try supplements, it may be helpful to prioritize time outside in the sun during the winter (if you have the option). It may also be helpful to include foods rich in vitamin D, such as fatty fish, milk and breakfast cereals, into your diet to ensure you are getting enough nutrients.

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