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. 

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