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8 Great Ways Beyond Sunlight To Get Vitamin D This Winter

vitamin d fish source

The winter months are not only responsible for seasonal colds, mountains of snow, and temperatures far below freezing, but also one of the most dangerous risks to your health: lack of vitamin D. With the sun only shining while most of us work, it's important to get this vitamin from different sources.

Missing out on daily doses of sunshine doesn't just contribute to losing that summertime tan. Without proper levels of vitamin D in your daily life, you could wind up with weaker bones and muscles, cognitive impairment, a large increase in cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer. Not to mention the fact that many people experience more mood swings, and are at a higher risk of getting sick. All of this is normally solved by getting about 20-25 minutes of direct sunlight (not through a window) daily, but winter poses a big problem to hitting those values.

Luckily, there are many different ways to make sure your winters aren't spent risking your health with a vitamin D deficiency. Choosing any of the ways listed below (or a combination of a few of them) will more than make up for what the sun lacks during these harsh winter months. The daily recommended value for vitamin D is 600 international units (or, IUs), or 800 IUs for folks above the age of 70. Read on to see just how you can incorporate different vitamin D sources into your diet!

The Fattier Fish

The list of fish that exist on that fatty list would be salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and eel. Generally speaking, this is the best food source of vitamin D, as one portion (or filet) of most of these fish contains roughly 450 IUs of vitamin D. Therefore, simply by including a serving of fatty fish during one meal in a day will nearly meet your daily recommended values. As an added bonus, you get some of the best fat around, as part of your meal!

Canned Tuna

Or, better yet, canned sardines! Personally, I've never ingested sardines based on what I've heard about the taste. But, canned tuna is certainly one of the better foods for you, that also packs a good amount of vitamin D. Depending on the specific type of canned tuna, the vitamin D levels in a four-ounce serving can be anywhere between 50 IUs (albacore) and 150 IUs (light tuna).
- per 4 ounces of tuna, can be anywhere between 50 (albacore) and 150 (light tuna) IUs.

Egg Yolk

The yellow part of the egg is one of the most highly contested debates in the health food world, and the vitamin D contained in just one egg yolk is a key player. In just one egg yolk, there are 40 IUs of vitamin D. However, that comes at a cost of how much cholesterol is contained in that same yolk -- doctors recommend no more than 300 mg of cholesterol daily, and one egg contains 200 mg. Thanks to these conflicting levels, it's recommended to not get ALL of your daily values from egg yolk.

Fortified Orange Juice

The vitamin C contained in orange juice has long been touted as its primary benefit, but those eight ounces of OJ contains 100 IUs of vitamin D as well! The only issue is, there aren't that many brands out there that are heavily advertised as containing D vitamins. You just need to make sure the brand of orange juice is actually fortified!

Fortified Milk

Much like with OJ, drinking an eight ounce glass will provide you with the benefit of roughly 100 IUs of vitamin D. Keep in mind, though, that you need to make sure that it is vitamin D fortified. The calcium contained in most milks won't be absorbed in your body without vitamin D (because of science), therefore you get double the benefit in just one glass! For those out there who aren't big fans of lactose, you can also get it from rice or soy milks, again just be sure to read the labels thoroughly.

Cod Liver Oil

Tastes as good as it sounds! The fact is, one tablespoon of cod liver oil contains 1,300 IUs; enough to nearly double the daily recommended amount. But before you dig in for a healthy spoonful, you should know that this stuff often comes in capsule form. This is great news, considering the actual taste is something not many people would want to replicate on a daily basis.

Ultraviolet Lamps/Bulbs

There is a market for these products, specifically with folks that are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. It may seem funny, or odd, to think that sitting in front of a light-emitting lamp would be beneficial, but there's a lot of people who hit the tanning beds for this reason. These specific types of bulbs, or lamps, certainly can be helpful in providing some vitamin D into your lifestyle, but it would be better check with your doctor first, because these lamps/bulbs contain the same skin-cancer risks as tanning beds, or even sunlight.


This last one is likely the most popular method out there, since you can simply ingest vitamin D in pill form to get what you need. The good news is you can take all your daily amounts of vitamin D in one dosage (unlike with calcium, which has set limits). However, the bad news comes in the fact that too much vitamin D can be toxic! For ages 9 and above, that means no more than 4,000 IUs across all sources of vitamin D (food/supplements/drinks). But because vitamin D in supplement form doesn't also include the calories, fat, or carbs of other food/drink options, most people would claim this is the most ideal form --  next to natural sunlight. As usual, be sure to do a little research into what's going in to those supplements, because additive ingredients are known to vary greatly among different brands.



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