Is Winter Breaking Your Heart?
This guest blog post is written by OnPoint Nutrition, a team of Registered Dietitians and Nutritionist who specialize in one-on-one virtual nutrition counseling.
Those who live in colder climates know that weathering a long, dreary winter can sometimes feel as tough as surviving a broken heart. Scientists are now discovering that the connection between “The Sunshine Vitamin” and our hearts may be deeper than cold-weather malaise. A mounting body of evidence, including findings by the National Institute of Health, indicates a linkage between low Vitamin D levels and heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other health issues. These findings have found their way to popular media and news outlets.
To compound this problem, many Americans are Vitamin D deficient. Why? Because our bodies are designed to produce most of the Vitamin D we need through exposure to direct sunlight. Unfortunately, many Americans spend a lot of time indoors. Other contributing factors include poor diets, rising obesity, and a lack of regular testing to monitor and correct vitamin levels. The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for Vitamin D is 600 IU per day for adults ages 18-70. Now that we’ve shown how important Vitamin D is, let’s talk about how to maintain this healthy level. That is, aside from catching sun rays all day!
How to maintain Vitamin D levels:
Maintain a Healthy Weight. Research shows a strong connection between obesity and Vitamin D deficiency. Like the other fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin D is stored in the body's fat tissue. Greater amounts of fat tissue store more of the vitamin, which makes it unavailable for circulation in the blood stream. A healthy diet includes eating a variety of protein foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and heart healthy fats. If you are struggling to lose weight on your own, seek out guidance and support from your family, friends, or a weight loss professional.
Eat a Diet High in Vitamin D. Be sure to eat foods that contain Vitamin D: fatty fish such as tuna, mushrooms, beef (stick to lean cuts and moderate intake), low-fat dairy, and whole eggs.
Get some rays. Spending even 10 minutes outdoors can help maintain adequate Vitamin D levels. Take some time to get outside and live a little, so you can live a lot!
Maybe winter isn’t truly breaking your heart after all. But, maintaining adequate Vitamin D levels, especially during the winter months, is extremely important. Implement these tips and consult with your doctor about testing your Vitamin D levels to ensure you’re not deficient in this vital nutrient.