There’s no doubt about it: fall is here and winter is on the way. The leaves are falling, Halloween has come and gone, and there is a chill in the air in the morning as the temperature drops below 50 degrees. The change in the seasons also means there is less daylight. As winter approaches, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. Plus, now that Daylight Savings Time is over, it’s getting darker earlier in the day. By the time you get outside for your regular walk or jog after work, it might already be dusk. And even if you do manage to get out before sunset, the clouds might be obscuring the sun anyway.
Either way, in the fall and winter, it can be a lot harder to get your daily dose of vitamin D. Most people rely on sun exposure for vitamin D, so your risk of deficiency increases during the dark days of fall and winter. Read on to learn more about the importance of this vitamin for your health and how you can take action now to avoid the negative health effects of vitamin D deficiency in the coming months.
How Vitamin D Supports Your Health
One of the main reasons why you need vitamin D is to help you absorb calcium from the foods you eat. This is essential for maintaining your bone health. Throughout your life, your body constantly gets rid of old bone tissue and replaces it with new tissue in a process known as bone turnover. Calcium plays a key role in the creation of new, healthy tissue, which ensures that your bones remain dense and strong. If vitamin D is not available to facilitate the absorption of calcium, your body won’t be able to replace as much of the bone tissue that is lost. The problem is made worse if you are over 30, which is the age at which the rate of bone tissue removal becomes greater than the rate of tissue replacement. As a result, vitamin D deficiency can put you at higher risk of developing osteopenia, osteoporosis, and other debilitating bone conditions.
Although bone health is the most commonly recognized benefit of vitamin D, there are actually a lot of other ways in which it can help maintain your health and wellness. For instance, vitamin D helps support your immune system, which can help you avoid getting sick this winter. In addition, getting an adequate amount of vitamin D can have neurological benefits. Scientists have found that vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression, and some studies show that increasing your consumption of vitamin D can actually alleviate certain depressive symptoms.
Getting Enough Vitamin D
Because vitamin D deficiency can have negative short-term and long-term effects on your health, you should do everything you can to make sure you are getting enough this winter. However, that can be major challenge when daylight hours are limited. Plus, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin D is only naturally present in a very small number of foods, so you have to make a concerted effort to ensure that your nutrition plan includes enough vitamin D. For children and adults under 70 years, the NIH’s Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 IU (15 mcg). For adults over the age of 70, who are at particularly high risk of osteoporosis, the RDA is 800 IU (20 mcg).
One of the best ways to ensure that you are meeting the RDA for vitamin D is to take a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D supplements are available in both liquid and tablet forms. If a doctor has told you that you are deficient in vitamin D (based on a blood test), starting a supplement is essential. But even if not, trying a vitamin D supplement in the fall is a great way to ensure that you won’t have to worry about deficiency in the winter. That way, your bones and immune system will stay strong during the colder months. A vitamin D supplement may also be able to help you stave off the blues during the dark, chilly days of winter.
Of course, you can also look for ways to include more vitamin D in your diet. The best natural sources of vitamin D are fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Many common foods are also fortified with vitamin D, including milk (dairy, almond, soy), orange juice, breakfast cereal, and orange juice. Still, because vitamin D is only naturally present in a few foods, it can be helpful to work with a nutritionist to find more ways to boost your intake to meet the RDA specified by the NIH.
Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers vitamin D in liquid and capsule form. Our chiropractors can also offer nutritional counseling to help you add more vitamin D to your diet. Contact us today to learn more!