There’s a whole lot to know about the ways you can acquire vitamin D, a powerful organic compound that is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin. Chances are you have plenty of questions about where you can get it and how. We’re going to answer both of those questions for you (and then some!).
If you’re wondering “is winter sun still a source of vitamin D?” you’re not alone. Today, we’re going to run through some background on this powerful vitamin, how you can acquire it, discuss the answer to that pressing question, and even address why vitamin D is something you’ve just gotta have.
What is Vitamin D?
Before we talk about vitamin D specifically, we’ll give you some fast facts on vitamins themselves.
When we’re talking about vitamins, we’re referring to organic compounds that the body requires to function properly. These usually come from food or supplements, but in the case of vitamin D, it can also come from the sun.
There are 13 recognized vitamins, and these are further categorized into fat-soluble or water-soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins are able to be stored in the body for a longer period of time. On the contrary, water-soluble vitamins can’t be stored, so you’ll need to have a steady supply of them. The vitamin in question (vitamin D) falls under the fat-soluble category.
Vitamin D itself is often referred to as “calciferol.” It occurs naturally in several foods, gets added into others, and can be taken as a dietary supplement. You can also acquire it from--you guessed it--the sun. While that sounds easy and feasible, there are things you should know about getting vitamin D from the sun and why it might not be the most effective (but more on that later). The way it works is that it gets produced endogenously when rays from the sun strike your skin. This triggers a process referred to as vitamin D synthesis.
Why is Vitamin D Important?
It’s impossible to emphasize the importance of vitamin D enough! This vitamin has a myriad of roles in the body, and when you don’t provide your body with a sufficient amount, you’re playing with fire.
There are several reasons why vitamin D is an essential vitamin:
- It helps keep your bones strong
- It works with parathyroid glands
- It has various other responsibilities related to cell growth, etc.
It helps keep your bones strong: One of vitamin D’s main roles is that it supports the absorption of calcium, which is one of the main components your bones are made from. The human body requires vitamin D so calcium and phosphorus can be used to create healthy, strong bones.
It works with parathyroid glands: Your parathyroid glands work to balance the calcium that is in your blood by communicating with your kidneys, skeleton, and gut. If there’s enough calcium and vitamin D present, calcium will be absorbed and put to good use in your body. On the contrary, if there’s not enough vitamin D or calcium, your glands will have to “borrow” calcium from your skeleton. To avoid making your body work overtime, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D and calcium.
It has various other responsibilities related to cell growth, etc.: These two roles are crucial, but there is more that this tiny but mighty vitamin is tasked with accomplishing. Vitamin D also helps soothe tension in the body, assists with processes such as cell growth, immune function, and even glucose metabolism. It can even impact sleep!
What Happens If I Don’t Have Enough Vitamin D?
Just like with any vitamin, if you don’t get enough vitamin D, there can be massive consequences. That’s why it’s of paramount importance that you take care of your body and acquire the correct quantity of vitamin D (and the rest of the essential vitamins, too).
If you suspect that you have a vitamin D deficiency, you should reach out to your doctor so they can request blood work. A quick and simple test will reveal if the vitamin D levels in your body are up to par or if you need an extra boost.
If you don’t have enough vitamin D, you can be at risk for cardiovascular issues, immune system malfunctions, falls (especially in older people), and more. By ensuring you have enough vitamin D, you’re supporting your body in the fight against these ailments.
How Do I Get Vitamin D?
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of vitamin D, it’s obvious how essential this vitamin really is. You might be wondering how you can get your required levels of vitamin D. Luckily, there are several different ways--but some are better than others. The three main ways you can acquire this valuable vitamin are from the sun, foods, and dietary supplements.
The sun is one way that you can acquire vitamin D naturally. The human body is capable of producing vitamin D as a response to sun exposure, but it’s valuable to note that this might not be a possibility for people in certain geographical areas or with certain skin tones.
Admittedly vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in a ton of foods, so humans have started adding it to some to help people get their fix. These are usually referred to as “fortified.”
Some seafood includes vitamin D, such as cod, swordfish, salmon, or tuna. For those who don’t enjoy seafood or are allergic, you can also get your vitamin D through fortified yogurt, milk, orange juice, or cereals. Always be sure to check the label so you’re confident that the food you’re eating has vitamin D in it.
Last but certainly not least, dietary supplements are an excellent source of vitamin D. These earn points for being accessible and easy to take (especially if you’re choosing our delicious vitamin D gummy vitamin!). Not to mention, supplements will help you get a higher level of vitamin D than you might from simply being in the sun with sunscreen.
Is Winter Sun a Source of Vitamin D?
Let’s get straight to the point: regardless of where you live, wintertime is not ideal for vitamin D synthesis.
While certain populations (like those who live in sunny, warm areas) might have a slightly easier time, winter sun simply isn’t as strong as it is during the summer months. This makes winter sun a less than ideal way to get vitamin D. In fact, many people simply won’t be able to get as much as they need.
This is largely because the sun is not at the correct angle to provide the earth with UV light, which is required to synthesize vitamin D in the skin. In plenty of parts of the United States, even in ideal conditions, there is simply an insufficient amount of vitamin D you can acquire from sunlight exposure between the months of November and February.
This makes it especially important to supplement time in the sun with a dietary supplement or food (but ideally a supplement--it’s just a lot more reliable to get the levels of vitamin D you’re looking for).
What’s Wrong with Getting Vitamin D from the Sun?
There are several reasons why acquiring vitamin D from the sun can be less than ideal, even during the warmth of the summer.
For one, you should be sure you’re wearing sunscreen every time you’re in the sun to protect your skin. While sunscreen protects the skin, it certainly doesn’t support acquiring vitamin D. This means that you’re better off adding a supplement into your diet than you are soaking up the sun without a layer of sunscreen.
In addition to this, there are several groups of people who might have a more difficult time getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D from the sunshine. This includes people who live in certain parts of the country that are further away from the equator. In addition, people with darker skin tones might struggle to get enough vitamin from the sun. The darker your skin is, the more sun exposure you’re going to need to get enough vitamin D from the sun. But remember: unprotected sun absorption can be dangerous for the skin!
Here at Cosmos Vita, we understand the importance of vitamin D, and want you to be able to acquire it easily and effectively. That’s why we’re inviting you to meet Beaming, our D3 vitamin.
Beaming will support your immune health, sans sun rays. It’s a high potency vitamin D3 gummy so you can get your daily fix of vitamin D and enjoy it, too. As we mentioned earlier, some of the other ways to get vitamin D, such as winter sun, are less than ideal. Beaming will support your body in its quest to acquire enough vitamin D, regardless of the season!