getting sun

These icky winter months tend to put a kibosh on the level of sun exposure we get, which is one of our body’s primary sources of vitamin D. It only takes about 10 to 20 minutes a day (without sunscreen) for your body to stock up, but let’s face it – the only skin you’re going to be showing over the next month or so are your eyelids. Plus, if your body doesn’t absorb vitamin D easily or you’d rather not subject yourself to a potential skin cancer diagnosis in the future, it’s good to have more sources of vitamin D in your arsenal.

A vitamin D deficiency can lead to achy muscles, muscle weakness and pain in your bones, and your risk for certain diseases increases (yikes!). During this time of year, it’s especially important to incorporate other sources of vitamin D into your diet.

Here are other sources of vitamin D you can take for a spin – you know, until that pesky snow melts:

1. Fatty Fish

One of the tastiest sources of vitamin D are fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel. (They’re also a fabulous source of omega-3 fatty acids!)

2. Canned Tuna, Sardines

If you’re on a tight budget and aren’t able to purchase fresh fish all the time, you can also use canned tuna and sardines as good sources of vitamin D.

3. Fortified Milk, Yogurt, Eggs

While specific amounts depend on the brand, most milk is fortified with 400 IUs of vitamin D per quart, and a 6-ounce serving of yogurt contains about 80 IUs. Egg yolks contain about 40 IUs of vitamin D, but because of the amount of cholesterol they contain it’s best to eat them sparingly. (They contain about 200 milligrams of cholesterol, and the American Heart Association recommends no more than 300 milligrams a day.)

4. Fortified Orange Juice and Cereals

If you’re not a big fan of dairy, there are quite a few orange juice and cereal brands that boast about their vitamin D skills. The amount of vitamin D in each varies, so always check the labels.

5. (Some) Mushrooms

Like people, mushrooms can produce vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet light. Check out the mushrooms at your local grocery store to find out which brands are grown in UV light.

6. Cod Liver Oil

It doesn’t sound that appealing, but most companies disguise the oil with mint or citrus flavors, and it’s also available in capsule form.

7. Supplements

Of course, vitamin D supplements are an efficient way to get your daily dose. Since too much vitamin D can be just as lethal, make sure you see a doctor before choosing a dosage.

8. UV Lamp

UV lamps are like a tanning bed, but smaller. You’re still at risk for skin cancer when you use them, so it’s best to get your doctor’s approval first.

I’ve found learning other sources of vitamin D and knowing them off-by-heart has helped me thoughtfully add more nutrients into my diet, while distracting me from the whole “winter blues” thing.

What sources of vitamin D do you depend on most?

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Image: Loredano Lavino