For many New Englanders, winter means long weekends skiing on their favorite slope or sledding with the kids on their favorite hill. For others, winter translates into evenings curled up in front of the fire or enjoying some comfort food as the weather heads downhill outside. Sadly, most New Englanders, regardless of how much time they spend outdoors during the darker winter days, experience a vitamin D deficiency. We’re here to tell you that we have a great solution… more meals that incorporate fish!
What Is Vitamin D Deficiency?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Vitamin D deficiency means that you do not have enough vitamin D in your body. Vitamin D is unique because your skin actually produces it by using sunlight. Fair-skinned individuals and those who are younger convert sunshine into vitamin D far better than those who are darker-skinned and over age 50.”
All other vitamins can be procured by eating the right food and fruits, but vitamin D is produced by the body only when our skin absorbs ultraviolet sun rays. During winter months, people layer up to shield against the cold and venture out less, further reducing exposure to sun.
Symptoms of this type of deficiency include: bone loss, mood changes, muscles aches, joint pain, and an overall feeling of fatigue. A blood test by your doctor can determine the extent of your deficiency and how much vitamin D you will need to take either by pill or through eating certain foods high in vitamin D. Think of meals that have fish!
(Source: Cleveland Clinic)
Good Sources of Vitamin D
Your doctor should be able to give you some tips, including how much vitamin D you should be having daily. Your provider may also make some other suggestions such as:
Being exposed to the sun. About 15-20 minutes three days per week is usually sufficient. Even in New England, this may not be near enough to combat the winter months spent indoors. Even summer months are not enough as we all tend to slather on sunscreen that blocks the absorption of vitamin D by our bloodstream.
Foods High in Vitamin D
Add foods to your diet that are rich in vitamin D. Did you know that fish is an excellent source? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Composition Database, one 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of farmed Atlantic salmon contains 526 IU of vitamin D, or 66% of the DV!
Additionally, fresh Atlantic Herring provides 216 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, which is 27% of the DV.
Fish is not the only food that is high in vitamin D. Cows milk, soy milk, cereals, and oats are also great sources to get the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D.