The warm glow of the holiday season has dimmed, and the imminent grayness of winter has suddenly smothered the cheery atmosphere like a wet blanket. Southwest Michigan’s notorious perma-cloud has staked its claim and snuffed out the last sunlight we might see until spring. While some optimists look forward to cozying up by the fire and spending quality time indoors, most of us are counting down the days until the sun makes its 2017 debut.
When we start to yearn for even the faintest ray of sunshine in the dead of winter, it’s not only the cabin fever talking, but also our bodies craving the one vitamin that we actually get from the sun.
Vitamin D, also called the sunshine vitamin, is absorbed and synthesized through our skin. During the summer, the body can convert sunlight from just 10 to 15 minutes of daily exposure into ample amounts of vitamin D. However, this becomes problematic in the winter months when daylight becomes a scarcity and exposing your bare skin to the elements causes more harm than good. To nourish your body with the vitamin D it needs, consider incorporating these foods into your winter diet:
- Portobello mushrooms are just like us in that they also produce vitamin D when exposed to UV rays. Sauté them for a side dish, stuff them for an appetizer, or mix them into pasta or risotto for a delicious entrée.
- Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, are a great source of vitamin D with an omega-3 bonus. Whip up a tuna salad sandwich with Greek yogurt instead of mayo for lunch or simply bake a salmon filet for an easy weeknight dinner.
- Milk in the U.S. is almost always fortified with vitamin D. Even some milk alternatives, such as soy, rice, and almond milks are completed with an added boost of the sunshine vitamin.
- Eggs are an easy way to incorporate a little extra vitamin D into any meal of the day. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, and even dessert, are all egg-celent opportunities to add some protein and vitamin D to your daily diet.
But does it really matter if our bodies are a little low on vitamin D? The answer is a resounding “yes”. Having sufficient levels of vitamin D has been shown to help ward off a litany of health issues, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. Even though it is possible to get your daily dose of vitamin D through food, supplements may also be suggested to get you through the winter months. If a vitamin D deficiency concerns you, talk to your doctor about a implementing a supplement and proper dosage.