February was cloudy, dreary, and just all around making me feel down in the dumps.  So, what’s a girl to do?  I need some vitamin D.  Vitamin D is one of those vitamins that we all take for granted here in the south.  Many northerners suffer from vitamin D deficiency, because winters up there are cold, dark, and snowy, but not here in the south.  We usually have plenty of sunshine even in the months of January and February, heck we can have 60-to-70-degree days sometimes, but lately, that just hasn’t been the case.  It has been cloudy, cold, and rainy most days and I miss the sunshine that gives me my daily dose of vitamin D.  Why is vitamin D so important?

BENEFITS OF VITAMIN D

  • Vitamin D can help build up your immunity, so you don’t get sick as often and are less likely to catch the flu.  Recently research has shown people who are deficient in vitamin D were more likely to test positive for the coronavirus.
  • Vitamin D has been shown to decrease your chance of developing heart disease and people who took vitamin D and calcium supplements had more luck in losing weight than their peers who took a placebo.
  • Vitamin D is also good for bone health. Not having enough vitamin D throughout your lifetime puts you at risk for developing bone abnormalities like soft bones (osteomalacia) or brittle bones (osteoporosis) later in life.
  • Vitamin D can promote better mental health.  People with fibromyalgia were less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety if they were not deficient in vitamin D.  In one study people who suffered from depression were given a vitamin D supplement and they noticed an improvement in their symptoms.

Some symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include tiredness, decreased energy, and just an overall sense of feeling “blah”.  You may experience feelings of weakness that make it difficult to climb the stairs or get up from sitting on the floor.  As always talk to your doctor about your symptoms, he may want to order a simple blood test to determine if you are deficient in vitamin D.

Foods High in Vitamin D

I love food.  I love that most foods if eaten in combination with other foods give me all the vitamins and minerals, I need to stay healthy throughout my lifetime.  So, if the dreary winter days are lacking in sunshine, I like to make up for it in the foods I eat.  Some of those foods rich in vitamin D that I love include:

Salmon, shrimp, egg yolks, mushrooms (Maitake and Portobello grown in UV light) sardines, fortified cereals, fortified dairy products, and fortified plant-based milks (nut milks), and finally something I am not real thrilled about, but a tablespoon of Cod Liver Oil will give you the recommended daily dose of Vitamin D.

Recommended Doses

Just like anything in life too much of anything is not good for you.  The same goes with Vitamin D.  Vitamins and drugs are measured out by IU’s (International Units), so for vitamin D here are the recommended DAILY doses:

Children: 1-8 years old 600 IU

Adults:     9-70 years old 600 IU

Older Adults 70 and over: 800 IU

I am looking forward to the warm sunshine to return in the Spring when things bloom and nature becomes bright and beautiful again, until then I will continue to enjoy my omelets, salmon, and mushrooms.

 

Ginny Spain RDN, LD, CLC – Ginny teaches life skills classes at The Extension, she is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Cobb and Douglas Public Health in their WIC program.  She is also a Master Gardener with the UGA Master Gardeners Extension Volunteers in Cobb County and loves to garden, cook and hike in her free time.