Vitamin D is surprisingly a hormone rather than a vitamin. It is a fat-soluble nutrient responsible for regulating the absorption of calcium, magnesium and phosphate in the body, and has been extensively studied. Some of the many roles it plays in our bodies include:
- Supporting immune function
- Bone health
- Proper thyroid function
- Calcium absorption
- Cardiovascular function
- Supporting healthy inflammatory response
- Needed for normal cell division
- Blood sugar control
- Healthy teeth and gums
Our bodies create vitamin D from sunlight hitting our bare skin when we are outdoors. The best times to do this is during the months from April to September, between the hours of 11am and 3pm. But what about during the colder months when there is less sunlight and we spend more time indoors?
Here are some tips to ensure you get adequate levels of vitamin D in the winter months.
1. Get out into the sun – daily sunlight exposure on your uncovered arms, forearms or lower legs can be sufficient to produce enough vitamin D. The amount of time needed varies from person to person, but around 15-25 minutes in the warmer hours of the day is best. Take care to cover up or go back indoors before your skin turns red or burns.
2. Include vitamin D rich foods in your diet – oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herrings, anchovies) are a good source of vitamin D, as are organic eggs, organic dairy and organic red meat. Liver is a great source of Vitamin D, A and B vitamins, although it can be an acquired taste!
3. Include more healthy fats into your diet. As vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it needs to be consumed with a fat to be absorbed.
4. If avoiding animal products, look out for vitamin D fortified foods, such as fortified cereals, orange juice or non dairy alternatives.
5. Consider supplementation- a high quality fish oil or cod liver oil is a good option if you don’t enjoy oily fish. Alternatively, supplementing directly with a Vitamin D supplement like is a good way to get your levels up. If supplementing with Vitamin D, make sure you have your levels tested regularly to ensure you are getting the correct dosage.