Vitamin D deficiency

The days are getting shorter, and while everyone’s busy gearing up for cold and flu season, there’s actually an even bigger health risk that rears its ugly head this time of year…

I’m talking about vitamin D deficiency.

It’s a widespread problem with some devastatingly serious consequences.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to osteoporosis, hypertension and stroke, breast cancer, and prostate cancer–just to name a few. Too little vitamin D also causes seasonal affective disorder (also known as the “winter blues”).

But as dire as it can be, vitamin D deficiency is actually surprisingly simple to fix.

Sun exposure is the best way to get this essential nutrient, since your skin naturally converts the sun’s rays into this essential nutrient. And you only need 20 minutes of sun exposure each day to get sufficient vitamin D.

The problem is, if you live in a northern climate, you don’t get as many sunny days as you need to get enough vitamin D–especially in winter, when it gets dark so early. (Not to mention the fact that you’ve got to cover practically every square inch of skin to stay warm.)

With all these obstacles in the way, it’s no wonder vitamin D deficiency is so common, particularly in the winter.

The good news is, there are a few easy things you can do to make sure you’re getting enough. In fact, during my recent appearance on The Rachael Ray Show, I shared some easy tips for getting more vitamin D from your meals. But in case you missed it, here they are again…

  • For breakfast, have a mushroom and cheese omelet. Mushrooms actually contain more vitamin D than any other vegetable. And dairy products like cheese naturally contain this nutrient. One thing to keep in mind, though– make sure to use the whole egg for your omelet, since the yolk–not the white–is what contains the vitamin D.
  • At lunch, top a salad with some tuna. (You get 200 IU of vitmin D in every 3 oz. of canned tuna.)
  • For dinner, broil some salmon and serve it up with a side of sauteed spinach (both are potent sources of vitamin D).

Of course, as delicious as these vitamin D-rich meals are, I don’t know many people who want to eat them every single day all winter long. So it’s always a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement too. I recommend at least 2,000-5,000 IU per day of vitamin D3 (the active form of the nutrient)–and be sure to get your blood levels checked periodically by your physician