It’s winter and in a lot of places that means it’s cold, you are stuck inside, and the sun isn’t up for nearly as long as you want it to be everyday. Winter can affect our mood (especially when mom REALLY needs the kids to be able to get out of the house!) and our activity. Winter can also affect our Vitamin D levels, which are super important to keep regulated!
Would you believe that the majority of the population — up to 90 percent of adults in the U.S. — is believed to have a vitamin D deficiency? Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is correlated with increased risks of developing common cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension and various infectious diseases. Yikes!
But what exactly is Vitamin D, and why is it essential, especially in wintertime?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Our bodies make most of our vitamin D on their own, rather than solely relying on food sources. Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin”! This is because our bodies make vitamin D by converting sunshine into chemicals that our body then uses. Pretty cool, right? Sunshine provides us some nourishment! So, direct exposure to the sun is actually the best way to absorb this important vitamin! However, with shorter days in the wintertime, and therefore less sunny days, our bodies cannot absorb as many UVB rays as they can in the summer months. Therefore, Vitamin D is especially important during the winter months!
Since our skin makes vitamin D when it comes in contact with the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun, one of the biggest reasons that more and more people are experiencing vitamin D deficiency symptoms is because of our modern, primarily indoors lifestyle. Time to get outside more! With staying inside so much, how can we get enough of our beloved sunshine vitamin? Many children spend numerous hours inside doing schoolwork, watching TV, playing video games or scrolling through the Internet. If the weather where you live gives you some sunshine or the temperatures are bearable to go out during winter, then try scheduling some outdoor time! Try taking a walk during the morning or early afternoon, or play in the snow with your kids, or plan a ski trip. Get adventurous and head outdoors whenever possible and, ideally, on slightly warmer days. If where you live makes it really hard to get natural light in your life, you could try Vitamin D lamps. However, although light therapy boxes have been shown to have a protective effect against seasonal affective disorder, most do not actually increase vitamin D levels.
If sunshine is hard to catch in wintertime for you, then Vitamin D supplementation can help, as well as eating foods that are rich in vitamin D. Some foods high in Vitamin D include:
+cod liver oil
Be it through direct sunlight or food and supplementation, it is critical that you find a way to get in your daily dose of Vitamin D. Vitamin D contributes to bone health, helps manage blood sugar levels and can prevent diabetes, protects against certain cancers, combats heart disease, enhances the immune system, facilitates hormone regulation and helps improve mood, and helps with concentration, learning and memory.
Although there are two types of supplemental Vitamin D–Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3–Vitamin D3 are thought to be more absorbable and beneficial. Also, the Vitamin D that our bodies naturally make is Vitamin D3. KidzShake Classic contains Vitamin D3 of 75IU and even better- Kidzshake PLUS and KidzShake Vegan both contain Vitamin D3 of 100 IU!
The USDA’s official recommendation of vitamin D for children and adults is 600 IU, or 15 mcg/day.
So soak up every bit of sunshine you can!
Written by Gelsey Plaza