Nutrition Spotlight: Vitamin D
Nutrition Spotlight: Vitamin D

As cold and flu season approaches, our immune systems must function at their best to help prevent illness. Research shows that vitamin D plays an essential role in immune health and protection against viral infections. Since sun exposure is our primary source of vitamin D, levels often drop significantly in winter due to diminished sunlight and increased time spent indoors. Use the following tips to ensure your body receives ample amounts of vitamin D this winter season.

Foods Rich in Vitamin D
To get vitamin D in the winter months, eat foods fortified with or rich in vitamin D. Fatty fish are excellent sources. Just a small 4-ounce serving of salmon offers 66% of our daily recommended allowance of this essential vitamin and eating 2.5 servings of salmon weekly provides all the vitamin D we need. With a long shelf life, canned or pouch tuna is also a great vitamin D-filled fish option for featuring in quick, easy meals like our Mediterranean Tuna Melt recipe below. Incorporating more fish into your diet gives you an extra dose of heart-smart omega-3 fatty acids, which also boosts the immune system.

Veg-Friendly Vitamin D
For vegetarians or those who dislike fish, drinking three cups of fortified milk daily or adding more mushrooms or yogurt to your diet can help increase vitamin D levels. Eggs and fortified foods like dairy products, cereals and orange juice are also good sources.

Vitamin D Supplements
If you have difficulty getting daily sun exposure or increasing your intake of vitamin D-rich foods, supplements are an effective way to get the necessary vitamin D. According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D units is 600 units for ages 19-70 and 800 for those 71 and over. Keep in mind that vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning the body has difficulty getting rid of it if you take too much.

Consult with your Weis Dietitian or Pharmacist for personalized advice on what vitamin D supplements are best for you and more tips on maintaining a healthy balance of vitamin D all season long!