What can I do to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D in the winter months?

Winter is right around the corner which means colder weather, shorter days and less outside time. Less time spent outside means less sun exposure, and less sun exposure leads to lower vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. It takes just 10-15 minutes of direct sun exposure a day for our body to synthesize enough vitamin D to keep us healthy.  During the winter months we spend less time outside which makes it hard to keep our levels within range. Without adequate vitamin D, we have an increased risk of illness and chronic diseases, including autoimmune disease, type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and many cancers. vitamin D, along with Calcium, is integral to bone health.  The average American’s vitamin D level will drop into the deficiency zone during the winter months. Following some simple guidelines can help you maintain optimal levels of vitamin D throughout the winter.

I encourage everyone to have their vitamin D tested to know exactly where you stand; a vitamin D level of 30-100 ng/ml is considered sufficient. If yours is less, your physician may recommend supplementation.

Food, and even milk, that is enriched with vitamin D does not provide us with enough vitamin D to keep us protected during the winter months. Supplementation is often needed. It is recommended that adults take 1,500-2,000 IU’s of vitamin D daily in addition to that consumed via your diet.

Vitamin D Rich Foods

1360 IU Cod Liver Oil, 1 Tbsp
360 IU  Salmon, cooked, 3.5 oz
345 IU  Mackerel, cooked, 3.5 oz
200 IU  Tuna Fish, canned in oil, 3 oz
162 IU  Shrimp, mixed types, cooked, 4 oz
98 IU   Milk, fortified, 1 cup
60 IU   Margarine, fortified, 1 Tbsp
50 IU   Pudding made with fortified milk, ½ cup
40 IU   Ready to eat cereal, fortified, 1 cup
20 IU   Egg, Whole, 1
12 IU   Cheese, Swiss, 1 oz