How to increase vitamin D intake throughout the winter months

Vitl is a personalised nutrition platform offering tailor-made supplements, targeted vitamin packs and at-home DNA and blood tests.

Keep reading for a blog post written by Vitl’s fantastic Nutrition Team, highlighting practical steps you can take to boost your vitamin D intake over the winter months ahead.

The clocks have now gone back which means the days are getting shorter, the sun is setting earlier and the chance of getting direct sunlight is much slimmer.

Not only does this mean starting and finishing work when it’s dark outside, but it also means we are all likely getting far less vitamin D than we should be.

It is thought that 60-90% of the general public are vitamin D deficient during the winter months and with reports that vitamin D deficiency can make you more susceptible to catching COVID-19, everyone should be thinking on how best to get more of this crucial nutrient.

How can you look to increase vitamin D through your diet?

Mushrooms

Although the main source of Vitamin D is sun exposure there are a few foods that contain some vitamin D, one of which is mushrooms. For vegans and vegetarians, mushrooms are one of the only plants that provide a decent source of vitamin D.

Although mushrooms produce vitamin D2 which is thought to be less effective than vitamin D3, it is still certainly worth including plenty of them in your diet. They work wonders in pasta dishes, curries, stews or on toast.

Fish

Fatty fish such as salmon is also a great source of vitamin D, containing roughly 520 IU of vitamin D per 100g serving (equating to roughly 66% of your daily value). Wild salmon often contains a higher amount of vitamin D than its farmed equivalent, so it’s always worth going wild if you can.

Herring and tuna are also good options to consider when trying to get more vitamin D in your diet. Herring contains roughly 112 IU per 100g serving, which is about 14% of the average daily value. Canned light tuna packs up to 260 IU per 100g serving which is roughly 34% of the average DV so if you do like fish, these additions would certainly be worth including in your diet.

Eggs

For those who aren’t a fan of fish or mushrooms, eggs are another good source of naturally occurring vitamin D. The egg white is rich in protein, but the yolk is where you’ll find the most nutrients and vitamins, including vitamin D. One egg yolk is predicted to contain as much as 40 IU of vitamin D, equating to roughly 5% of your DV.

Fortified foods

Foods such as cow milk, soy milk, orange juice and cereals often have vitamin D added to them to help increase daily intakes.

Whilst only making up about 15% of your DV you should look to add a few fortified foods to your diet where possible.

Supplements

Whilst the sun is tucked behind the clouds for the majority of the autumn and winter months, supplementing vitamin D is certainly recommended. Cod liver oil is a very popular supplement, with around 448 IU per teaspoon (roughly 56% of your DV).

If you are vegan or vegetarian, cod liver oil might not be an option. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian vitamin D supplements available out there but it is important to remember that vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it should be consumed with high-fat foods for best absorption. Look for supplements that are formulated with high-fat food, such as Vitl’s vegan vitamin D supplement, which includes sunflower oil to maximise absorption.

If you’re not sure which vitamins are best for you we recommend trying Vitl’s personalised vitamin pack, which you can access on the Heka app here. After a short consultation. Vitl will send you a completely personalised 28-day vitamin supply tilted to meet your nutritional needs.