Vitamin D winter - so you get enough article image

Vitamin D winter - so you get enough

In the summer, we are often out in the sun, which gives us both warmth and energy, something we are not as spoiled for in Sweden during autumn and winter. The sun also gives us vitamin D thanks to its UV rays on our skin during the summer. Vitamin D is an extremely important substance for health and well-being and something we should get every day.

The sun is one of our most important sources of vitamin D, but when autumn arrives, the sun reaches us at a different angle than during the summer, which means that the skin can no longer absorb the vitamin during this period. It becomes especially important to find other sources to simply get enough vitamin D.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is actually not a real vitamin but a collective name for a group of fat-soluble steroid hormones. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is found in animals and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is found in plants.

Almost every cell in the body has receptors for vitamin D, which is why it has such a big impact on our health and well-being. Because it is a fat-soluble substance, it can be stored in the body, so we do not pee out excess as we do with many other vitamins, for example vitamin C.

If we are good at staying out in the sun during the summer months, we replenish our supply, which then lasts a couple of months into the fall. When the supply begins to run low, it is important to replenish, but in other ways than via the sun. This is why there is so much talk about the importance of vitamin D during autumn and winter (October-May) in the Nordics, and many choose dietary supplements to meet the body's daily needs.

The power of vitamin D

Vitamin D's tasks in the body are many, hence its great importance for our health. Something that has been highlighted a lot in recent years, since the pandemic, is the vitamin's effect on the function of the immune system. Several of the cells of the immune system depend on vitamin D to function optimally, which affects how well the body handles infections. A regular intake of vitamin D is therefore important for the functioning of the immune system.

Calcium is good for strong bones, you've probably heard that? What you should also know is that vitamin D is needed for calcium and phosphorus to be absorbed well by the body and contributes, just like calcium, to normal bone structure.

Something you may not have known is that vitamin D is also important for muscle function and development. Vitamin D is involved in muscle contraction (when the muscle contracts) and in muscle growth.

In addition to the above functions, vitamin D also affects the calcium levels in the blood, that all the body's cell division processes work as they should, and the calcium balance in our teeth.

Signs of low levels of vitamin D (vitamin D deficiency)

  • Impaired immune function (often gets colds or other infections)
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Walking difficulties
  • Cramps
  • Decreased appetite
  • Impaired cognitive functions (e.g. memory, concentration, etc.)

How much do we need per day?

The Swedish Food Agency recommends between 10 micrograms and 20 micrograms per day for children and adults, depending on age. This is the amount we need to get EVERY DAY all year round. This is how the Swedish Food Agency writes.

"In order to get enough vitamin D, the Swedish Food Agency recommends that certain groups take dietary supplements with vitamin D. This applies to all children under the age of 2 and all adults over the age of 75. This also applies to anyone who does not eat fish or vitamin D-enriched food and anyone who is not exposed to sunlight in the summer. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are covered by the advice if they are part of one of these groups.”

Read more about Livsmedel's advice on vitamin D here .

3 tips to increase your vitamin D intake during the winter

  • Eat fatty fish, eggs and dairy products fortified with vitamin D regularly
  • Vitamin D supplements
  • Travel abroad to the heat

Vitamin D is also found in food - right?

Yes, there is vitamin D in food too, but unfortunately in limited quantities. You find vitamin D in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring but also eggs and meat contain little vitamin D. Since there is not much natural vitamin D in our food, certain foods are fortified with vitamin D. This applies to certain milk products (such as yogurt, cheese, milk), plant-based drinks, margarine and cooking fat mixtures.

Groups at extra risk of vitamin D deficiency are therefore vegans, vegetarians and people who do not eat fish or who rarely eat fish.

Foods that are fortified with vitamin D

  • Dairy products (milk, skimmed milk, yogurt)
  • Butter and Margarine
  • Plant-based alternatives to dairy products

Frequently asked questions and answers about vitamin D winter

Should you take vitamin D in winter?

Answer: Yes, either one eats vitamin D-rich foods regularly and/or supplements to ensure optimal vitamin D levels.

Why is vitamin D deficiency more common during the winter?

Answer: Because the sun is at an angle which means that the UV radiation that gives us vitamin D does not work. It is also because few foods contain high levels of vitamin D, the overall intake is low, which can lead to vitamin D deficiency.

How much vitamin D do you need in the autumn and winter months?

Answer: You need the same amount all year round in order not to risk low levels. It varies with age and if you belong to a risk group, but between 10 micrograms and 20 micrograms per day are the current recommendations, but up to 100 micrograms is an approved amount.

How do you get vitamin D in the autumn and winter months?

Answer: By eating vitamin D-rich foods regularly and/or vitamin D supplements. A trip abroad to the sun also provides a supplement of vitamin D.

Do you get vitamin D from the sun in autumn and winter?

Answer: No, unfortunately not.

Who is at risk for vitamin D deficiency?

Answer below:

  • Children under 2 years.
  • Children and adults who do not eat oily fish.
  • Children and adults who do not eat vitamin D-fortified foods.
  • Children and adults wearing clothing that covers the face, arms and legs or not staying in the sun during the summer. Even sunscreen blocks absorption during the summer.
  • Everyone over 75 years.
  • Vegans and vegetarians.
  • Children and adults who use sun protection factor during the summer. It blocks the absorption of vitamin D in the skin.