Disclaimer: this post was 100% inspired by me bundling up in sweaters and blankets to sit outside every possible day throughout autumn to catch some warming rays.
Picture this: mid-January in the Northern Hemisphere, fewer daylight hours, frequent winter storms, many hours stuck inside. Winter is coming. That is unavoidable. But, the icky, low-energy, depressed, gloomy, lethargic feeling you get in January maybe doesn't have to be so... icky.
Start planning now to combat the winter blues that will set in come January. There's a whole long list of things you could do but this post is dedicated to one thing only: making sure you get enough of that sunshine vitamin - vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that plays an important role in the immune system. It also aids in the prevention of osteoporosis, depression, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
Unfortunately, many people struggle with vitamin D deficiency year-round, and not just in the winter months, due to a lifestyle that keeps us out of the sun for several reasons whether that be career, seasonal shifts, the prevalence of SPF products in society, etc. The bottom line is that one of the best, fastest, least costly ways to support one's vitamin D level is to get a healthy amount of exposure to sunlight so that the body can synthesize the nutrient on its own.
Let's breakdown the 3 ways to get vitamin D:
1. Through Diet
There are some foods like eggs, liver, fatty fish, and fortified milk that contain vitamin D. Someone who follows a strict vegan diet over a longer period of time may have trouble consuming a proper amount of vitamin D through food.
As far as supplementation goes, it is a good idea to get your vitamin D level tested yearly with your doctor before you start a regimen. It can take a while to increase your level of vitamin D, but over-supplementation can cause kidney damage. Re-test your levels to see if your choice of supplements is effective. Not all supplements work for everyone. For example, I've had poor results with any supplements other than Carlson's Super Daily® Vitamin D3. D3 is the version of vitamin D that the body makes, therefore it is more recognizable to the body's cells even in supplement form. This is a better source of the vitamin than fortified milk, as fortified milk usually contains D2 which is a less useable form of vitamin D for the body.
3. Sun Exposure
Like I said before, catching some daily rays is the best way to increase your vitamin D level. Make sure you go about this safely. The sun's rays can still be damaging in prolonged (unnecessary) exposure. You should aim for 20 minutes/day of unfiltered sun (outside, no sunblock or SPF). It's still a good idea to avoid the dangerous rays during the summer months between 10am and 4pm and don't ever let your skin burn or blister.
The point is to get your vitamin D level in range now, while it's easier to get some safe sun, before flu season becomes full-blown, and while you still have the motivation to make some changes to your lifestyle routine. Let's be honest, it's difficult to do anything new in January when you're cold, tired, sun-deprived, and vitamin D-deficient. Cheers to making some changes, maintaining your vitamin D level, your health, and maybe accomplishing some new year's resolutions because you physically prepared ahead of time to get yourself out of the winter wormhole!
I'm on the lookout for some motivated individuals who not only want to learn more about health, but want to actually make day to day changes that will contribute to them being their best selves in the present!
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