Getting Your Vitamin D this Winter

Sara Kelly - DietitianSara Kelly, RD, LD
Hy-Vee West Circle

Getting Your Vitamin D This Winter

Most people know that our bodies obtain vitamin D from sunlight. But what about those cold winter months when many of us avoid going outside for days? 

Vitamin D serves many functions in the body. It is essential for tooth and bone health and avoiding bone diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis. New research also suggest that it’s a powerful antioxidant – meaning that it can repair damage from toxins such as cigarette smoking and environmental pollution, as well as help prevent cancer. Some studies even suggest that vitamin D can help treat and prevent depression. Most Americans need around 600 international units daily of vitamin D to meet their nutritional needs. Five to 10 minutes in the sun daily (without sunscreen) is generally enough to provide this amount. 

Vitamin D does not occur naturally in many foods. Fatty fish such as salmon, canned tuna and mackerel contain the highest amount of natural vitamin D. Sardines and egg yolks are also good sources. The dairy industry has been adding vitamin D to cow’s milk since the 1930s. An eight-ounce glass of milk has around 100 international units of vitamin D. Non-dairy milks such as soy milk are also fortified, making them good sources of the vitamin.  Most cereals and margarines are also fortified with vitamin D. 

If you do not frequently consume any of the foods mentioned above, a supplement can help to avoid a vitamin D deficiency. Talk with your Hy-Vee dietitian about the best vitamin D supplement to meet your needs.