Why do you need vitamin D?
It has an important role, which is to help absorb the calcium that you get from your diet. This is especially true in children’s development, because children with vitamin D deficiency develop weak and misshapen bones, commonly called rickets. Vitamin D and calcium levels are also important later in life in the prevention of osteoporosis. Newer studies are also starting to show that vitamin D may also help protect you from colon, prostate and breast cancers [Source: National Institute of Health].
How can you get vitamin D?
Usually, when your skin is exposed to sunlight (specifically, ultraviolet UVB radiation), a series of reactions take place, producing vitamin D3. Some studies show that “approximately 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually lead to sufficient vitamin D,” [Source: National Institute of Health]. However, given the increasing risk of skin cancer, always be sure to take appropriate precautions to limit exposure to harmful UV rays, no matter the season. So, you still may want to consider alternate sources of vitamin D.
You can also get vitamin D in certain foods that you eat, such as cod liver oil, fish, eggs, mushrooms, as well as foods that are fortified with vitamin D like milk, tofu, orange juice, and cereals. Vitamin D also exists in various supplements, many in combination with calcium. However, be sure to talk to your doctor to check for any possible interactions with medications that you are taking before you start taking vitamin D.
As we all do what we can to fight cabin fever as we impatiently wait for spring to arrive, it’s good to remember to keep our vitamin D levels up.