Did you know that your body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on your skin when exposed outdoors? That means that from about late May to the end of September, most of us should be able to get all the vitamin D necessary from sunlight. However, those who live in climates with long winters can be left at risk for being low in this important nutrient, so closer attention should be paid to your food choices.

Why do we need vitamin D? Our bodies must have vitamin D to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Insufficient vitamin D could cause soft bones in children (rickets) or fragile, misshapen bones in adults (osteomalacia). It could more commonly mean a loss of bone density in older adults (osteoporosis), which can lead to fractures, or even more easily broken bones.

We all need vitamin D for other important body functions, as well as for mental health improvements, such as reducing depression. Dark, cold days and reduced social activities due to the pandemic can leave many people feeling down.

Here are some great foods to add to your weekly grocery list to help you amp up your supply of vitamin D and keep your family happy and healthy:

  • Fish, especially fatty types such as salmon, not only contain adequate amounts of vitamin D per serving, but also offer essential omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Mushrooms contain the pro-vitamin ergosterol which converts to vitamin D during growth in sunlight, similar to how we humans create it.
  • Milks labeled as vitamin D fortified.
  • Cereals blends fortified with vitamin D, such as whole grain.
  • Orange juice that has been fortified with vitamin D is a great addition to your breakfast.

As you’ve learned, the benefits of the sunshine vitamin are no secret. Besides boosting mood and promoting calcium absorption, studies have indicated that vitamin D could also help you with weight loss goals. Particularly important for people with extra belly fat, a vitamin D supplement may be beneficial.