Daylight savings time is Nov. 6, and when the clocks fall back, so will your daily dose of sunshine. Sunlight has long been associated with levels of vitamin D, a compound that plays an essential role in bone health. Over time, minimal sunlight can lead to vitamin D deficiencies, resulting in weakened bones and fatigue. Decreased sunlight, however, does not make maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D impossible. Chicago Healer’s Valerie Early, R.D., offers alternative ways to ensure you get the proper amount of vitamin D.
- Food. While one should not depend on food to get a sufficient amount of vitamin D, it is still a useful source. Vitamin D can be found in milk and fatty fishes, such as salmon or tuna. You can also look for foods fortified with vitamin D, such as certain soy milks, breakfast cereals, orange juice and margarine.
- Supplements. Supplements are your best bet for getting enough vitamin D. Multivitamins can be used, but check that it has the correct type of vitamin D (cholecalciferol).
- Get tested. The amount of vitamin D that each person needs can vary. For example, people age 50 and older, people with lactose intolerance, people with darker skin and people who are obese may be more prone to vitamin D deficiency. Check in with your doctor and ask for a blood test to ensure that you are working toward the correct number.
Remember to be watchful for symptoms of vitamin D deficiency over the winter months. Symptoms include chronic backache, depression, hypertension, weight gain and rickets, and can develop into more serious diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Vitamin D is also shown to lessen the risk of developing certain cancers, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and hypertension, so the importance of keeping your vitamin D levels up even in the winter months is of utmost importance.