We’re lucky to live in New England.
After residing in various regions of the United States, I’m convinced that nothing can match our
rocky beaches, our forest systems, and our mountain ranges. Maybe you’re like me and tend to
find joy in our changing seasons, and appreciate the sometimes rude awakening from Mother
Nature that time is marching onwards. Many people rue the shorter days that winter brings -
they might feel depressed, sluggish, and have low energy. One thing that is vital for us as New
Englanders is to ensure proper vitamin D intake, especially during the winter season.
Why is vitamin D so important?
Vitamin D is linked to immune system function, calcium absorption and osteoporosis prevention,
cell differentiation, gene transcription, cancer prevention, cardiovascular disease prevention,
and diabetes prevention. All that to say - vitamin D is essential to human function! In adults,
deficiency over a long period of time will likely contribute to the formation of chronic illness. In
children, vitamin D deficiency can lead to Rickets, a condition where the bones become soft and
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that appears in a seasonal pattern,
commonly beginning in late fall and lasting until spring. This is seen more frequently in people
who live further from the equator, and tends to affect women more than men. How is this related
to vitamin D? The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that those
with SAD tend to have lower levels of vitamin D. Further studies are necessary to determine
if vitamin D supplementation can prevent SAD.
How do we get vitamin D?
Vitamin D is frequently called the sunshine vitamin because our skin naturally produces
vitamin D in the presence of direct sunlight. This is great news for those months where we’re out
in the yard gardening, hitting the trails with our friends and family, or lounging at the beach. But
in the winter months we’re usually inside, and when we’re outside most of our skin is covered,
preventing the natural production of vitamin D. The good news is by adding a vitamin D
supplement to your daily routine, we can maintain our necessary levels of vitamin D throughout
the winter months.
How much vitamin D do I need each day?*
Life Stage Minimum Recommended Amount
Birth to 12 months 10 mcg (400 IU)
Children 1–13 years 15 mcg (600 IU)
Teens 14–18** 15 mcg (600 IU)
Adults 19–70** 15 mcg (600 IU)
Adults 71+ 20 mcg (800 IU)
*As reported by the National Institutes of Health
**Pregnant and breastfeeding teens and women 15 mcg (600 IU)
These amounts may need to be adjusted based on your health history. Some literature
recommends 1000-2000 IU for adults, and 2000-4000 IU for those who are pregnant or
breastfeeding. It’s best to talk with your doctor to determine what’s right for you.
What foods are high in vitamin D?
The skin of fatty fish (salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel), as well as fish liver oil are excellent
sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be found in egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver. In the
United States, most people get their vitamin D via fortified foods, which include cows milk,
plant based milk (soy, almond, oat), or cereals. Typically, these do not meet the daily
recommended intake unless you’re consuming multiple servings each day, so be sure to check
out the nutrition panel on the box or container to be sure you’re hitting your minimum.
An important piece of the puzzle is to take your vitamin D supplement with fat, as fat is
required to properly process vitamin D in the body. If you’re considering supplements, taking it
with a meal is the best way to ensure proper absorption in the body.
Looking for a good vitamin D supplement? We’d be happy to point you in the right direction. Check out our Fullscript Dispensary!
Dr. Rachel ScheinContact Me