Surviving Winter Sans the Sun: Eat Your Way to Vitamin D
It’s the thick of winter and you would do just about anything for some (warm) sunshine. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Throughout the frigid days of January and February, most Americans would do just about anything for some sunshine, seasonal berries, and fresh air, but what they don’t always realize is that their bodies are also likely craving something more — and it comes in the form of vitamin D.
Americans who live in Northern climates get less vitamin D in the winter because the primary way to get the vitamin is by exposing the bare skin to sunlight or ultraviolet rays. Though there is sunlight in the winter, the Vitamin D Council explains that it is more difficult to get vitamin D during the season because during the colder months, the sun’s rays enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a steep angle, the atmosphere blocks the UVB part of the rays, and the skin is kept from producing vitamin D. On the other hand, in the summer, when the Earth rotates, the angle improves and more UVB reaches the places far away from the equator, allowing humans to produce the necessary vitamin D.
Exposing your bare skin to summer sunlight is thus the most natural way to get your body to produce vitamin D, but during the winter months, there are also ways to supplement that so vitamin recommendations are met. The current recommendation for vitamin D is 400-600 IU per day, and different parties recommend different ways for ensuring those requirements are realized during the winter months.