Vitamin D and the Winter Blues

Updated: Jun 9, 2019

Winter is only about half way over here in North Dakota and I am already starting to get restless. While the temp is bearable outside, the sidewalks are not, so it is difficult to get outside and go for a walk without slipping. Being cooped up inside for months on end is difficult, especially when you’re used to Texas winters and being able to go outside for a nice walk in the middle of January. Because I’m stuck inside several months of the year I do not get exposed to many UV rays to help my body produce vitamin D so I have to rely on vitamin D foods and supplementation.

Sadly, there are not many foods that contain vitamin D. These are the most common vitamin D containing foods:

  • Fatty fish, such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon

  • Vitamin D fortified foods such as some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals 

  • Beef liver

  • Cheese

  • Egg yolks

While vitamin D from UV ray exposure has been linked with improved mood, this is likely due to an increase in “happy” hormones induced by sunlight exposure rather than increased vitamin D levels. The jury is still out on vitamin D supplementation and improved seasonal affective disorder symptoms.

However, just because vitamin D may not improve your mood, it does play a significant role in bone health, strengthening the immune system, slowing the onset or improving the symptoms of diabetes, and it may even help slow cognitive decline. Vitamin D is also a fat-soluble vitamin meaning that it must be taken with foods containing fat for maximum absorption and utilization.

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