Your Need for Vitamin D When the Sun Isn’t Shining

couple in the sunVitamin D is a critical vitamin to our health—its main roles in the body are to enhance bone strength, regulate the immune system and help the cells communicate.

With all that work to do, it’s convenient that our bodies can manufacture Vitamin D with the help of sunlight. In the winter months, we need to make sure we’re amply supplied.

Though Vitamin D comes in several forms, numbered D1 through D5, the two forms that scientists have identified as being of most use in humans are D2 and D3, with D3 being favored in recent studies for supplements.

D3 is the type of Vitamin D that is made in the skin when it reacts to certain wavelengths of ultraviolet rays, rated as a UV index of more than 3.

D is for Days of Sunlight

This occurrence of sunlight happens every day in the tropics, providing a source of these rays for people to produce sufficient Vitamin D on a regular basis. Two 15-minute exposures per week, directly on the skin, at a UV index greater than 3, are what is required.

In temperate climates, this index only occurs in summer, and most days in spring and some of autumn. In colder climates, it is less frequent, and in the Arctic, almost never. Other factors affect the ability to manufacture Vitamin D as well:

  • Wearing sunscreen
  • Pollution/smog
  • Cloud cover

If you can’t produce the recommended amount of Vitamin D on your own because of lack of exposure to natural sunlight, experts suggest turning to food sources and nutritional supplements to make up the difference. 600 IU is the U.S. RDA for ages 1 – 70. Others, such as Boston University School of Medicine, have recommended 1000 IU.

Sources Beyond the Sun

Perhaps because the sun offers such a big, reliable source of natural Vitamin D production for people in so many parts of the world, there are far fewer foods in nature than you might expect offering natural Vitamin D for our consumption! But modern food manufacturing and nutritional supplements have compensated for that by adding Vitamin D to common foods you might already enjoy. Dairy foods are a classic example: Vitamins D is added to milk and as a result, milk products like yogurt. This fortification began generations ago to combat the condition known as rickets.

Orange juice and breakfast cereals are usually fortified as well. And Vitamin D supplements are readily available, typically small and easy to tolerate.

Getting Vitamin D from your food is a little trickier, but if you’re already eating with an eye on Omega 3s and healthy fats in your diet, you might be covered. The best sources of Vitamin D are cod liver oil, swordfish and salmon.

Note: Wild salmon has much more Vitamin D than farmed salmon. Given that Wild Salmon is one of nature’s healthiest foods, you can enjoy it one day this week with this fast and easy preparation. The dry rub of strong herbs compliments salmon’s hearty, moist flavor.


Skillet Wild Salmon

Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground basil or ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 6 oz. Wild Salmon filet
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 fresh lemon wedge


Mix the spices, salt and pepper together and rub on the fish. Heat the skillet on medium high heat and melt the butter in it; then add the salmon and cook until golden on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook another 5 minutes or to your preferred temperature. Squeeze lemon on fish and remove from heat.

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