healthier eaters blog

The time change calls for a vitamin D increase

Daylight Savings forced us to turn our clocks back a couple of weeks ago. We gained an hour of sleep but lost an hour of daylight in the PM. Experts say it can take a week to adjust. I think it takes my family longer. Meanwhile, we may not even realize what it’s doing to our precious vitamin D intake.

As daylight dwindles, so does vitamin D intake

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which is essential for bone health. Vitamin D also lowers blood pressure while increasing our immune function, so everyone needs it. But some people naturally have a harder time absorbing this precious nutrient, including those:

  • over age 50.
  • who are overweight.
  • with darker skin.
  • with intestinal issues such as celiac or irritable bowel syndrome.

Next, shift the daylight hours back. If this means you’re working indoors during daylight hours, you will miss out on valuable sunlight, which is your main source for vitamin D. After all, vitamin D is one nutrient you cannot get enough of through diet alone.

Make it a mission to get your daily vitamin D

We get most of our vitamin D from the sun. The Vitamin D Council recommends that you expose your bare skin (face, arms and legs, for the sake of decency!) about half the time it would take to turn your skin pink. This may depend on where you are, how intense the sun is and how fair your skin is. Generally, I aim to get about 15 minutes of sun exposure per day.

This is obviously more difficult during fall and winter when we lose daylight. If you can get outside for lunch hour, this can get you some vitamin D while giving you a reboot for the afternoon.

egg yolk for vitamin D

You also need to eat foods with vitamin D including egg yolks, fortified Greek yogurt, shiitake mushrooms and fish such as mackerel, tuna and salmon. Still, you may need to supplement with capsules or drops in order to get enough vitamin D each day. The Vitamin D Council recommends that adults get 5,000IUs per day and kids get 1,000IUs per day per 25 pounds of body weight.

More doctors seem to be promoting healthy vitamin D intake these days, but they don’t all test for it during a routine physical. When you get your next physical, ask your doctor to add this test to your lab work, especially if you frequently or consistently experience bone aches, a sweaty head or depression, which can be signs of vitamin D deficiency. Note that many people show no symptoms but still lack the vitamin.

Take some time to explore new ways to eat hard-boiled eggs. Make breakfast burritos with scrambled eggs. Try a tuna salad (even paleo style) in a pita or lettuce wrap. Slow-cook a new soup using salmon or tuna and shiitake mushrooms. Explore some new smoothie recipes using Greek yogurt or milk.

When it’s time to set back the clocks, start plotting ways to put more vitamin D into your diet each day – before the extra stress of the holidays starts hitting your immune system!

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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