The two main natural sources of vitamin D are food and sunshine. Getting all your daily vitamin D from diet alone is a challenge since it isn’t present in many major food groups. To load up on it, most of us will need to head outside.
“[Vitamin D] is a ‘sun vitamin’, meaning that its production starts with the influence of full-spectrum sunlight,” Jeffrey Bland Ph.D., functional medicine expert, mbg collective member, and founder of Big Bold Health tells mbg.
Bland says that spending 30 minutes in the sun daily should be enough—but that’s easier to do during spring and summer months. “The long nights and short days of winter, particularly in northern latitudes, result in lower vitamin D levels in the body,” he says.
It’s not necessarily obvious when your body needs more vitamin D, making diagnosing an insufficiency at home next to impossible. Bland explains that the symptoms are “very subtle” and could include fatigue, increased frequency of colds and infection, chronic muscle and bone pain, and mood swings and the blues.
“This can be confusing, in that these symptoms can relate to many other issues too,” he adds. “So if a person experiences these symptoms it would be smart to check their blood levels for vitamin D.” If you’re heading to the doctor this winter, ask for a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D test, 25(OH)D for short; anything above 20 to 30 ng/mL is a healthy range.
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