Do You Need More Vitamin D In The Winter?
Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient with a central role in maintaining health. While the jury is still out data-wise, many studies have shown some degree of immune support in the face of our current viral pandemic. I recommend prudent daily sun exposure to support the natural production of vitamin D in our skin as one of the best ways to get enough of this vitamin. But if, like many these days, you have few opportunities to go outside due to work, school or weather, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Decreased or insufficient levels of vitamin D have been linked to:
- Suppressed immunity: Our innate systems of defense may not function efficiently without adequate vitamin D, allowing increased susceptibility to infectious agents.
- Increased risk of chronic disease: Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with a higher-than-normal risk of heart disease and several kinds of cancer.
- Heightened inflammation: Vitamin D is a key cofactor in regulating inflammation throughout the body.
- Falls: Older persons with low vitamin D are at a greater risk of falls, which combined with a greater risk of weaker bones, are a major cause of hip fracture and chronic pain.
Speak with your doctor about checking your 25-hydroxy (25-OH) vitamin D level and ask if supplementation may be needed. In the United States, everyone who lives north of a latitude line connecting Atlanta and Los Angeles will synthesize very little D during the winter, as the sun’s angle is too steep to be effective. Therefore, it is helpful to know your levels in the summer and winter and adjust dosing accordingly. In general, I recommend 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day; look for supplements that provide D3 (cholecalciferol) rather than D2 (ergocalciferol).
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