Vitamin D provides various health benefits that protect us year-round. Many of us could use the boost it gives our minds and bodies in the winter especially. The thing is, it’s most challenging to get the vitamin D we need during winter. So, what do you do?
This article will answer that question. But first, let’s explore the benefits of vitamin D and why it’s so important in the winter.
The Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an integral role in us maintaining our holistic health.
It helps ensure our calcium and phosphate levels are appropriate. It reduces your risk of experiencing inflammatory bowel and Crohn’s disease and other gut infections, promoting a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
In addition, vitamin D is essential for strengthening your immune system and regulating cell growth. Our bones, teeth, and muscles stay healthy because of it too.
Moreover, vitamin D deficiencies can affect your mental health, inciting seasonal affective disorder (SAD), worsening depression, and exacerbating schizophrenia in adults. So, it’s safe to say that maintaining healthy vitamin D levels can help you manage these mental health issues.
Regarding the health benefits we reap from vitamin D in the winter, specifically, think about how often someone falls ill during this time. Or how often someone slips and falls due to the snow or icy conditions.
Vitamin D’s ability to strengthen our immune systems, bones, and muscles could help us fight off illnesses more effectively during the winter and heal should we injure ourselves in the winter weather.
Getting Vitamin D in the Winter
As much as we need vitamin D in the winter, this is when we’re most likely to be starved of it, mainly because our bodies create vitamin D when our skin absorbs direct sunlight. Short winter days limit our sunlight. And we’re less likely to spend time outdoors because of that and the cold weather.
Still, you must strive to get vitamin D consistently in the winter. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Don’t let the cold stop you from getting outdoors
Despite shorter days, there’s still sunlight in the winter. And that means we can still get vitamin D the natural way. So, don’t let the cold weather stop you from getting outdoors. Instead, bundle up and find enjoyable outside activities suitable for wintertime.
For example, you could work on your home’s curb appeal by trying front yard landscaping ideas. Putting in new lighting, beautifying your pathways, adding fresh mulch, and planting colorful flowers and plants can prepare your home to shine in spring and summer.
Other outdoor activities suitable for winter are:
- Ice fishing
- Nature walks
- Camping and bonfires
- Skiing and snowboarding
- Snowtubing and sledding
Focus on your mental health
As mentioned above, a vitamin D deficiency can harm your mental health. Although you can’t get vitamin D from nurturing your mental health, you can better fend off the harmful effects of a vitamin D deficiency should you be unable to get enough throughout the months.
Therapy and counseling are always great options for mental health care. But if you want to go the self-help route, tend to your mindset. Instead of viewing winter as a limiting time of year, shift to “thinking like a Norwegian.”
The people of Norway thoroughly embrace the coziness and beauty of winter. They view it as one of the best times of the year, full of opportunities for outdoor recreation, gatherings with loved ones, and indoor pleasures like intimate dinners and crafts.
Change how you think about winter and make it a fun time of year, and it can positively impact your mental health throughout this time.
Incorporate it into your diet
Since you can’t get all the vitamin D you need from direct sunlight in the winter, it’s a good idea to incorporate foods that have it in your diet. There’s a small group of foods that have vitamin D in them:
- Red meat
- Orange juice fortified with vitamin D
- Fortified dairy products
- Some mushrooms
- Some fat spreads and breakfast cereals
- Oily fish like salmon and sardines
Do your best to eat these foods and drinks to get vitamin D daily. You might also want to take a vitamin D supplement during the winter since it’s difficult to get your entire dose of vitamin D from the foods you eat. It’s best to consult your doctor before adding a supplement to your regimen to ensure you’re taking the appropriate dosage.
Go away for the winter
Everyone may not be able to take advantage of this option. Still, it deserves a section. If you want to get all the vitamin D you need through exposure to direct sunlight every day, go away somewhere warm and sunny during the winter months, like Hawaii, Florida, or Arizona.
If you’ve got the money, time, and freedom to go away for the entire winter season, go for it. If you don’t right now but want to, sit down and go over your finances. See how you can save to make it happen next winter.
Also, determine if your job will accommodate it, if your business can survive that long without you, or if you can go to someplace where you can still work remotely.
We need vitamin D year-round, but it can be especially beneficial in the winter months. Use the tips above to ensure you’re getting all you need during the shorter days and colder nights of winter.
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.
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