Winter can be harsh. Shoveling mounds of snow, de-icing your car every morning and schlepping around in heavy, weatherproof boots all day takes a toll on your body. But it’s not just your sore muscles, chapped lips or frizzy hair that’s the problem. For many, lack of sunshine can be a real health concern.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends people ages 19 to 70 get at least 600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D daily. That amount increases to a minimum 800 IUs as you age, because it becomes harder for the body to naturally produce vitamin D. This rare-but-essential nutrient has been shown to support the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, as well as help keep the immune and nervous systems fully functioning.† That’s the good news. The bad news is this “sunshine vitamin” is not easy to come by during the dreary winter months
Un D-niable sources of vitamin D
- Natural sources: The number one source of vitamin D is the midday sun. Experts recommend 20 to 25 minutes of exposure daily, without sunscreen, for maximum benefits. However, in many areas, it’s too cold to go outside or the sun simply isn’t strong enough to promote vitamin D production during the winter months. In that case, look for food and supplement sources…
- Food sources: Certain foods can provide this essential nutrient. Chow down on fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel and eel. Not a fan of seafood? Not a problem! Fish liver oils, like Vitacost Liquid Norwegian Cod Liver Oil in lemon flavor, egg yolks and vitamin D-fortified milk, orange juice and cereals can also do the trick.
- Supplements: Even if you make a concerted effort to eat many of the foods listed above on a daily basis, it can still be very difficult to ensure you’re getting the vitamin D your body needs through diet alone. That’s where supplements come in. For many, dietary supplements are the easiest way to fill in nutritional gaps.
Vitamin D supplements come in many different varieties. Choose the type that appeals most to you.
- If you don’t mind swallowing pills, consider taking vitamin D tablets. MegaFood Vitamin D-3 Tablets are free of gluten, soy and dairy!
- Some people prefer soft gel capsules because of their easy-to-swallow coating. If you’re in this camp, check out Doctor's Best Vitamin D3 Softgel Capsules.
- If you’re not a fan of swallowing pills at all, chewables may be for you. Caltrate 600 + D3 Calcium & Vitamin D3 Soft Chews are flavored like chocolate truffles! For kids, consider Bluebonnet Nutrition Super Earth Rainforest Animalz Vitamin D3 Mixed Berry Chewable Tablets. They're made with whole-food fruits and veggies.
- Gummies are another route for kids and the elderly. Look for tasty flavors like black cherry, orange and strawberry, so they’ll actually enjoy taking their vitamins. Kids may even beg for them!
- Liquid vitamin D supplements are another popular choice to get the goods down the hatch. They, too, come in a variety of flavors and a couple convenient forms, like Garden of Life mykind Organics Vegan D3 Spray in vanilla. All it takes is one spray and you're on your merry way!