Question: I've heard that it's harder to get as much vitamin D in winter because it's not as sunny. Are there foods I can eat to make up for this or should I be taking a vitamin D supplement?
Answer: Vitamin D is formed by the action of sunlight on the skin, so it is true that in seasons when there are lower levels of sunlight or we need to cover our skin to keep warm, that there can be a greater risk of not getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure.
There are certain foods such as eggs, oily fish and margarine that contain small amounts vitamin D, however a large amount of your daily vitamin D needs are provided by sun exposure.
It would take quite an increase in these foods for a person to make up for a lack of sun exposure, which is not recommended.
Supplements can be useful for some people with low levels of vitamin D, however they should be taken under the advice and supervision of a doctor who is able to test vitamin D levels and determine if they are appropriate.
For the average person, simply increasing the amount of sun exposure in winter will help ensure adequate vitamin D levels.
In summer, it is recommended to expose the face, arms and hands to the sun for 10 minutes daily outside of peak UV times to help get your daily dose of vitamin D.
In winter, this should be increased to 30 minutes outside of peak UV times (10am-2pm).
Windows block the formation of vitamin D from sunlight, so it's important to get outside.
You can use this as an opportunity to get 30 minutes of physical activity for the day too, roll up your sleeves and go for a brisk walk to help stay warm while you're getting your winter vitamin D.
This information is provided by the Sanitarium Nutrition Service.
Video: Vitamin D deficiency