Vitamin D Important for Health All Year Long

Wintertime brings around the joy of holidays, time with family, and the warmth of a crackling fireplace. Unfortunately, it also brings a time of year where people tend to get much less exposure to sunlight every day.

Direct sun exposure allows the skin to help make enough vitamin D to meet your daily needs, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Allows nerves to carry messages from the brain throughout the bodyVitamin D is a nutrient made by the skin and also found in some foods and supplements. It helps the body absorb calcium, which supports strong, healthy bones, according to the NIH. Vitamin D also:

  • Gives the immune system the strength it needs to fight bacteria and viruses
  • Helps muscles move

Thankfully, according to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’sOff Site Icon (ODPHP) Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended that people get most of their nutrients – including vitamin D – from food, rather than other sources.

Because very few foods naturally have vitamin D, according to the NIH, most vitamin D in Americans’ diets comes from fortified foods. Some of the foods that are good sources of natural and fortified vitamin D include:

  • Beef liver
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Fatty fish, including mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna
  • Margarine (some brands)
  • Milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Orange juice (some brands)
  • Yogurt (some brands)

Some groups of people are more likely than others to be deficient in vitamin D, and need to take a supplement in addition to the vitamin D they get from the sun and foods. According to the NIH, people who could need extra vitamin D include:

  • Breastfed infants
  • People who are obese
  • People with conditions, including Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and liver disease
  • People with dark skin
  • Seniors

People included in these groups should focus on eating food rich in vitamin D, and should talk to their primary care provider about what kind of vitamin D supplement is the best choice for them, according to the NIH.

For more information about vitamin D, talk with your doctor or visit to find a physician.