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Optimizing Vitamin D Levels Throughout Winter

The days are becoming darker and shorter as winter approaches, limiting the availability of sunlight and natural vitamin D.  Maintaining optimal vitamin D levels through sunlight, food and supplements is key to bone health and minimizes deficiency symptoms like fatigue, muscle weakness, frequent sickness, and depression.

Because only a handful of foods (swordfish, wild-caught salmon, canned tuna, beef liver, egg yolks, oysters, shrimp, sardines) contain significant amounts of vitamin D and would need to be eaten daily, regular sun exposure is the most natural way to obtain this important vitamin.

Aim for 10 to 30 minutes of midday sunlight, several times per week. People with darker skin may need additional sunlight. As an added bonus, sun exposure also helps regulate your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) and increases levels of melatonin at night, leading to better sleep.

Although it’s ideal to obtain vitamin D from sunlight and food sources, sometimes supplementation is almost always required to reach adequate levels in the winter. Vitamin D supplements vary in dosage. That said, the amount you need depends on your current vitamin D levels. For most people, 1,000–4,000 IU is considered a safe daily dose for maintaining optimal blood levels in most people. However, it’s ideal to have your vitamin D levels tested by your medical provider to ensure you’re taking the most appropriate dose.

Once you determine the appropriate vitamin D dose, be sure to choose supplements tested for purity and quality. We recommend FMF Foundations vitamin D3. You can also purchase vitamin D at our Boise or Meridian office.

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