Why the Risk of a Vitamin D Deficiency Is Higher in the Winter

Waist up portrait of smiling mature couple enjoying Nordic walk in winter forest at sunset

For many years, the scientific community didn’t fully understand the role vitamin D plays in wellness and healthy aging. Experts knew it was vital for healthy bones and fall prevention, but beyond that, there was little recognition of just how it impacted health. Fortunately, that is changing. Researchers now know more about vitamin D and the many different ways it affects wellness.

We now understand that if you have a vitamin D deficiency, you’re at risk for a variety of health issues ranging from sleep problems to cancer. And because most of us who live in colder climates spend the majority of our time indoors during the winter, the likelihood of becoming deficient increases during those months.

That’s because vitamin D is produced when the sun’s rays reach the skin. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays interact with a protein called 7-DHC in the skin, converting it into vitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D.” When we are stuck indoors, that process becomes impaired.

Vitamin D Deficiency and the Health Concerns Linked to It

While it might not sound like that big a deal, a vitamin D deficiency really can be. A few illnesses that may be caused by or linked to it include:

  • Increased risk for bone fractures
  • Higher incidence of type 2 diabetes
  • Deep muscle pain that causes muscle weakness and fatigue
  • Confusion, memory problems, and forgetfulness
  • Greater risk for cardiac problems, such as heart disease or stroke
  • Increased chance of developing multiple sclerosis
  • Higher odds of being diagnosed with breast, thyroid, lung, colorectal, and prostate cancers

6 Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

One of the challenges with vitamin D is that it can be difficult to detect a deficiency in yourself or a senior loved one. The symptoms are often mistaken for another health condition, such as dementia or an autoimmune disease.

A few of the common signs of a vitamin D deficiency to be mindful of include:

  • Fatigue that doesn’t improve with sleep
  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • Overall lack of energy and enthusiasm
  • Persistent case of the blues
  • Joint pain and stiffness, sometimes accompanied by swelling
  • Feeling sweaty, cold, or clammy
  • Confusion or trouble concentrating

How a Vitamin D Deficiency Is Diagnosed and Treated

If you or a loved one spend the majority of your time indoors, it may be a good idea to talk with your primary care physician about it. They can order a simple blood test to determine if there is a problem. If the test does reveal a vitamin D deficiency, the treatment is usually fairly simple.

Depending on the degree of the deficit, the doctor will probably recommend either a prescription dose of vitamin D or a dosage of an over-the-counter supplement. While increasing your consumption of foods high in vitamin D may help, it usually isn’t enough. Few foods contain enough of this essential vitamin to close the gap.

Foods that contain vitamin D include:

  • Cow’s milk or almond milk
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Mushrooms
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Canned tuna
  • Beef or calf liver

There are other foods that are enriched with vitamin D during the production process. They typically include dairy products, orange juice, and cereal.

When you are working on improving your vitamin D, it’s also important to incorporate foods high in calcium into your diet. Calcium helps the body better absorb vitamin D. A few suggestions to consider include:

  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Canned salmon
  • Spinach
  • Tofu
  • Nuts
  • Navy beans

Invest in a Mobile Monitoring Unit This Winter

Whether it’s a slip-and-fall accident on an icy sidewalk or another health emergency, being able to quickly call for help is vital for people of all ages. Winter is a great time to invest in an emergency call system like the Life Protect mobile monitoring unit. It allows the user to quickly summon assistance from wherever they are, indoors or out. Email us at info@lifeprotect247.com for more information today!