Let’s take a look. Vitamin D, often known as the sunshine vitamin, plays an important role in our bone health and is mostly made by our body through its exposure to sunlight. This is somewhat unique because most of our vitamin D consumption comes from the sun, as opposed to the consumption of our other essential daily vitamins, which largely comes from the foods we eat. The truth is, having too much or too little vitamin D in your body can affect the amount of calcium in your bones and may take a toll on your overall bone health over time. For example:
Low levels of vitamin D can lead to decreased bone mass (osteoporosis), which can increase your risk of fractures.
Too much vitamin D can lead to calcium deposits in the kidneys (kidney stones), or calcium build-up in other soft tissues like the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
When you stop to consider that more than 90% of a person’s vitamin D requirement tends to come from casual exposure to sunlight, this can pose some unique challenges for those of us in environments where the winter months bring limited exposure to the sun. With shortened days and colder outdoor weather, we often lack the exposure to ultraviolet light that is needed for enough vitamin D to be made in our body this time of year.
You can get vitamin D naturally from a few foods, including egg yolks or fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel. In the US, some brands of these foods are fortified with vitamin D to help us prevent the risk of vitamin D deficiency in our general population, including milk, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, orange juice, yogurt and margarine.
This winter, increase your vitamin D intake and keep your bones strong by reading nutritional labels and picking out a few products during your regular grocery store visit that are fortified with vitamin D. And of course, it also never hurts to add a little bit more sunlight to your day when you can!
For questions about keeping your bones in good health this winter, and throughout the year, talk to our POA team.