If you’re feeling sluggish this time of year, it might be time to check your Vitamin D levels. According to research, over 40 percent of Americans are deficient in the vital nutrient all year round, and that number increases further as the days shorten and the winter chill hits.
Vitamin D is produced by our bodies when our skin comes in contact with sunlight. Here in Pennsylvania, we’re down to about nine hours of sunshine each day, so spending free time in the sunshine can be a challenge. We’re indoors more over the winter—or bundled up when we’re outside—we miss out on opportunities to allow our bodies to produce Vitamin D.
Many of us are indoors from sunrise to sunset this time of year.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, joint and muscle pain, and depression. If you suspect you’re deficient, your doctor can perform a simple blood test to check your levels.
The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to boost your Vitamin D levels.
- Consume foods high in Vitamin D. Eggs, salmon, and tuna all naturally contain Vitamin D, and many foods are fortified with the nutrient, including cereal, orange juice, milk, and yogurt.
- Take advantage of the warmer days to replenish Vitamin D reserves. On the few days when the temps are in the 50s, ditch the long sleeves, get moving, and allow your skin to take in the winter sunshine for a few minutes. Midday sun provides the greatest benefit.
- Take a supplement. The easiest way to make sure you’re getting the 600 recommended IUs of the vitamin is by taking a daily supplement. Be careful not to overdo it though, too much Vitamin D can be harmful.