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How to increase your vitamin D intake this winter

When it comes to getting enough of the so-called "sunshine vitamin" this winter, certain foods and supplements can help.

CLEVELAND — Sunny days are in short supply with winter here, and that means many people aren't getting enough vitamin D.

So, how can this impact our health?  

"Vitamin D is essential, especially when we're talking about bone density. It works really well with calcium. A lot of times what happens is if we're not getting enough calcium in our diets, the body will decrease the calcium stores. Vitamin D helps maintain those calcium stores to keep our bones nice and strong," explained Beth Czerwony, RD, a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic. "A lot of research supports that vitamin D helps with overall mood, too." 

Czerwony said many people have a vitamin D deficiency, and a simple blood test can tell you for sure.  

However, some warning signs of a deficiency can include fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness and mood changes. 

When it comes to getting enough of the so-called "sunshine vitamin" this winter, certain foods can help.  

Czerwony said fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines are all good options as well as mushrooms, egg yolks and milk fortified with vitamin D. 

She also encourages people to talk to their doctor to see if a vitamin D supplement is necessary.  

If it is, when you take that supplement can make a difference.  

"I always recommend taking a vitamin D supplement with your heaviest meal because it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Doing this will help your body absorb the supplement and increase your vitamin D levels faster," Czerwony said.  

She added your doctor may check your vitamin D levels regularly if you have certain risk factors for a deficiency. 

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