Vitamin D Is Harder To Naturally Find During The Winter Months

First Posted: Feb 16, 2015 01:57 AM EST

The winter months can make it hard for everyone to get the recommended amount of vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin that's naturally found in a few foods and ultraviolet rays.

Maintaining proper levels can be critical when it comes to to preventing certain health issues, including an increased risk of immune problems, lowered bone density and even some cancers. Furthermore, research also shows an increased risk to cognitive problems, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues.

Residents of northern U.S. states are at the highest risk for vitamin D deficiencies in the country. The elderly, pregnant and nursing women and people of color also have higher chances of being vitamin D deficient.

It's during the winter months that vitamin D is harder to take in. As people wear more clothes to feel comfortable, they're also less likely to spend time outside, where direct sunlight stands out.

Sunlight isn't the only way to get this vitamin. Certain types of fatty fish, vegetables and vitamin supplements can help with vitamin D intake. However, the majority get most of their vitamin D naturally outdoors.

"Every cell in the body is responsive to vitamin D," Peter Horvath of the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, said in a news release. "If you're deficient, you won't see the health effects for years and it could take months to get your levels back up."

Before vitamin D can be properly absorbed, the body must go through two hydroxylations. 

First, the liver works to convert the component to 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], also known as calcidiol, and lastly, the kidney helps form physiologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], also known as calcitriol.

For those dealing with the dreary winter months of northern climate, health officials recommend introducing a vitamin D supplementation of 1,000 and 2,000 international units a day. Stalking up on vitamin D in the summer with a lot of outdoor activities can also help during the winter months when direct sunlight is harder to find.

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