I always look forward to the winter solstice. It varies between December 20 and December 22 – the day with the least amount of sunshine, but that’s not why I look forward to it.
I like it because starting the next day I know we’re going to get more sunshine and more vitamin D every day from then on out to the summer solstice.
[box type="note"]Vitamin D and sunshine are critical to both our physical and mental health. Diseases such as cancer, depression, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have been associated with vitamin D deficiency.[/box]
Fair skin persons need about 15-20 minutes of daily exposure to midday summer sunlight. If your skin is darker, you need more time in the sun. During the short winter days, getting enough vitamin D can be challenging. However, with these 4 ways to get vitamin D in the winter, you can beat the winter time blues and help maintain your health.
If it’s bright outside, find a reason to go out and enjoy it. Since the sun is at a lower angle, stay out longer than the 15-20 minutes you would spend in the sunshine during the summer months. You can also forget the sunscreen, unless you’re in the tropics. And hey, a Caribbean vacation would be a great way to solve this wintertime vitamin D deficiency problem, don’t you think?
Many health clubs and beauty salons have vertical tanning units or tanning beds. Using one for a few minutes go help you get your minimum dose of vitamin D is a viable option. However, don’t overdo it; studies increasingly point to tanning beds as raising the risk of skin cancer.
Many foods are rich in vitamin D. If you’re a person who thinks everything tastes better with bacon, here’s the excuse you’ve been waiting for: lard from free range pigs is very high in vitamin D. Other foods to consider are salmon, mackerel, tuna in oil, fish roe, oysters, herring, eggs, beef liver and mushrooms. Unpasteurized milk is also a source of vitamin D; however raw milk can pose other health problems. Be careful.
Experts believe that it is better to get your vitamin naturally through foods, but if that’s not possible you can add a dietary supplement. Cod liver oil is the best, but for people who are sensitive to cod liver oil or who cannot swallow capsules, a vitamin D3 pill is okay. Generally between 800-1000 units of vitamin D are recommended through the winter months. People over the age of 50 should increase this to 2000 units.
If you follow these 4 tips to get your vitamin D in the winter, you’re going to make it through the dark months in good shape. And let me give you one more tactic to help keep your spirits up when the days are short and it’s cold outside: Start planning your summer vacation. A little armchair travel is always a great therapy.