We derive vitamin D from being exposed to the direct sun, from a few foods which are rich in vitamin D and from supplements. Exposure to the sun, however, is the body’s best source of acquiring vitamin D. Skin exposed to sunshine through a window, when indoors, doesn’t produce vitamin D. And the amount of vitamin D the skin can produce on cloudy days, and in the shade, is limited.
As the days grow shorter, and there is less sunlight in British Columbia’s fall and winter, many of us lack the adequate amount of vitamin D. And, according to research, the older we get, our body loses some of its ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D.
Since vitamin D is key to maintaining strong bones, fall is a good time of the year to look at ways to ensure we’re getting enough vitamin D in our daily diet. The reason vitamin D is tied to maintaining healthy bones is because this vitamin helps the body absorb calcium – one of bone’s main building blocks.
The importance of vitamin D doesn’t stop at our bone health. Vitamin D is found in cells throughout the body to:
- Keep muscles moving.
- Help nerves carry messages between the brain and every body part.
- Fight off invading bacteria and viruses in the immune system.
- Protect older adults from osteoporosis.
With Christmas soon upon us, there is another reason to look at your vitamin D intake. Many people feel a little blue over the holidays. Winter depression, as many call it, often stems from a seasonal affective disorder better known as SAD. A lack of sunlight is often the cause.
Check with your doctor for the amount of vitamin D you need each day. It depends on your age. If you suspect you may be suffering from SAD, talk about treatments with your doctor and explore the possibility of using light therapy to help you through the grey months.