Ensuring Vitamin D Sufficiency in Winters and Avoiding Over Supplementation
Vitamin D is important for your overall health and well-being. It helps keep your bones strong and healthy and prevents fractures and other bone disorders. It also protects your immune system and prevents certain cancers and hyperparathyroidism.
However, a few people may have vitamin D deficiency due to:
- Not taking foods high in vitamin D
- Digestive disorders, such as celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and Crohn’s disease
- Kidney/liver disease
- Limited sun exposure
- Lactose Intolerance
- Infants who are only breast fed (as it contains less vitamin D [20-40 IU/L])
- Certain medications
Apart from the reasons listed above, the winter season can increase vitamin D deficiency. Our body produces vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight, which is limited during winter and tends to worsen any deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency is not a cause for concern initially, but it can lead to health complications and immune system disorders if not treated in time.
Common Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency During Winter
Though vitamin D deficiency is a common problem in winter, you may not realize you are deficient without a blood test.
Osteoporosis (loss of bone density in older adults). Osteoporosis can cause these symptoms:
- Stooped posture
- Back pain
- Fragile bones
- Fractured/collapsed vertebra
- Loss of height over time
Learn more about the possible symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in this video below:
Tips to Boost Your Vitamin D Levels in Winter
According to the Health and Medicine Division, daily intake of vitamin D should be:
- 600 IU (International Units) for people under 70 years old
- 800 IU for those over the age of 70
If you are concerned about vitamin D deficiency in winter, these tips will help:
#1: Take Foods High in Vitamin D
Though there is reduced sunlight in winter, you can consume foods containing vitamin D to increase your vitamin D levels. Fatty/oily fish (salmon, sole, mackerel, swordfish), canned tuna, fortified food (milk, yogurt, soy milk, orange juice, cereals), mushrooms exposed to UV rays, egg yolks, and cod liver oil are good sources of vitamin D.
#2: Get Adequate Sun Exposure
Sunlight is the major source of vitamin D, so spending 20-30 minutes under the sun at least three times a week will help you get sufficient vitamin D. Doing more outdoor activities like cycling and walking is also helpful.
Other than this, sunlight helps the skin to produce Endorphin that induces relaxation and increases pain tolerance. Sunlight exposure also releases calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide that protects against oxidative stress, hypertension, and vascular inflammation.
Among the many benefits of sunlight is substance P, which promotes blood flow and regulates the immune system against acute stressors, and adrenocorticotropic hormone that controls cortisol released by adrenal glands, which regulate the immune system and inflammation. Moreover, getting adequate sunlight in winter also helps release Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone that increases libido and increases skin pigmentation.
#3: Use a Vitamin D Lamp
As UV LED lamps are proven to produce double the amount of vitamin D3 than the sunlight, you can use them to treat your vitamin D deficiency. However, it’s recommended to use only the FDA-approved lamps.
#4: Exercise Regularly
A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology reveals that exercising regularly contributes to increased levels of vitamin D. You can follow a morning exercise routine including walking, jogging, and squats, or practice planks, glute bridge, and figure-4 stretch in the evening.
#5: Take Vitamin D Supplements
Visit a healthcare provider for advice on getting the right supplements and dosages. Ask your doctor what dose you should take, as an overdose of vitamin D can negatively affect your body.
Risk of Excess Vitamin D Supplementation
Intake of an excess amount of vitamin D can harm your body and cause vitamin D toxicity. Though uncommon, it’s best to check your vitamin D level with a blood test within 2-3 months of starting supplementation.
If you are suffering from vitamin D deficiency and seeking medical help before opting for vitamin D supplementation, visit one of our immediate urgent care centers in Irvine, Costa Mesa, or Fountain Valley. We will offer valuable medical advice specific to your needs.
Category: Food and Nutrition
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