Monday, January 30, 2012

How to Get Enough Vitamin D in Winter

If you're worried the sun's slumber in winter is keeping you from getting your daily dose of vitamin D, there are plenty of other ways to get your recommended daily amount.

Snowscape
It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from the sun in winter

Got sun? As humans, our connection to the sun is strong. It keeps us warm, brightens our mood, and is an essential part to growing the plants that will become our food. There is another truly amazing connection we have to the sun: Our bodies can make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to it. But are you getting enough of that vitamin D?

This question is especially important in the winter months when days are shorter and sunshine is harder to come by. The amount of vitamin D you make from the sun can also vary depending on factors like cloud cover, air pollution, how much of your skin is exposed to the sun, skin pigment and whether you are wearing sunscreen.

Vitamin D is vital in building and maintaining strong bones. Without it your body can't absorb the calcium in food. Emerging research suggests that vitamin D also may be important in keeping your immune system healthy while too little vitamin D intake has been linked to bone loss, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?

The Institute of Medicine recommends children and adults up to age 70 get 600 IUs (international units) of vitamin D per day. Adults older than 70 should get 800 IUs per day. Boost your vitamin D intake with these healthy choices:

Salmon, sockeye 3 ounces 447 IUs
Shrimp 4 ounces 162 IUs
Orange juice, vitamin D-fortified 1 cup 137 IUs
Milk, vitamin D-fortified 1 cup 100 IUs
Egg, with yolk 1 large 41 IUs
Shiitake mushrooms 1 cup 29 IUs

Robert Summerford, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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