Why Vitamin D Should Be Your Winter Wellness Secret

Why Vitamin D Should Be Your Winter Wellness Secret
December 15, 2023
RxLocal Team

As winter blankets the world in snow and low temperatures, there’s another challenge that often goes unchecked: lack of sunlight.

Not only can less sunlight affect mental health — with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — it can also affect physical health with vitamin D deficiency. In darker, colder months, when the sun’s rays are scarce and most of us spend more time indoors, you may find yourself short on this key nutrient.

Vitamin D is essential for your overall well-being, influencing everything from bone health to your immune system’s ability to bounce back from sickness. And in cold and flu season, that ability is more important than ever.

Read on to learn more about vitamin D, how it powers your body, and how you can make sure you get enough this winter.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D, often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin," is a fat-soluble nutrient that your body needs to stay healthy.

There are many forms of vitamin D, but the two most common are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

While both forms can be obtained through dietary sources and supplements, vitamin D3 is the one produced by your skin in response to sunlight.

What Does Vitamin D Do?

Among other things, vitamin D is responsible for:

  • Calcium absorption: Vitamin D helps the body regulate calcium absorption, ensuring you maintain strong bones.
  • Bone health: Vitamin D promotes bone mineralization and density, preventing osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children.
  • Immune support: Vitamin D also helps regulate the immune system and defend against infections.
  • Mood regulation: Because vitamin D is associated with mood, deficiencies can be linked with depression.
  • Cardiovascular health: Vitamin D keeps your heart healthy by regulating blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Muscle strength: It also supports muscle function and physical performance.
  • Pregnancy health: It enables proper fetal development.
  • Diabetes management: For those with diabetes, it may improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation.

Because vitamin D is involved in so many functions in the body, it’s essential that you get enough of it. If you don’t, you’ll likely develop a vitamin D deficiency.

What are the Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency?

Over 1 billion people around the world have a vitamin D deficiency. In the United States, 35% of the population — approximately 115 million people — have a vitamin D deficiency. 

Some signs of vitamin D deficiency, according to the Cleveland Clinic, include:

  • Fatigue
  • Bone pain
  • Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps
  • Mood changes, like depression

This deficiency isn’t something to take lightly, so if you find yourself facing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor or local pharmacist about your next steps. They may refer you to a new diet, supplement, or even a daily dose of sunshine.

How to Increase Vitamin D Intake

  • Get enough sun: If you’re lucky enough to live in a sunny climate, try to spend time outdoors, especially during midday, to allow your skin to produce vitamin D naturally.

  • Use a UV lamp: If you don’t get much sun where you live, you can opt for a UV lamp or UVB-emitting light therapy device. UV lamps can mimic natural sunlight and stimulate vitamin D production in the skin, though they aren’t as effective as natural sun exposure.

  • Eat vitamin D-infused foods: Dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), egg yolks, fortified dairy products, and fortified cereals. The recommended intake is 400–800 IU/day or 10–20 micrograms, depending on your age.

  • Take a supplement: If you have limited sun exposure and still aren’t getting enough vitamin D in your diet, you can always supplement with quality vitamin D sources. Talk to your pharmacist to find the right brand and dosage for you.

  • Try fish oil: If you’re looking for other supplements that can kickstart your vitamin D intake, consider fish oil (like cod liver oil). It’s a natural source of vitamin D and offers a variety of other vitamins and minerals.

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so maintaining a healthy weight can help optimize its absorption and utilization in the body.

  • Consult your healthcare provider: If you suspect you have a vitamin D deficiency, talk to your provider. You can get tests to assess your vitamin D levels and then come up with a personalized plan to get you back on track.

What are the Best Vitamin D Supplements?

You should always talk to your doctor or pharmacist when starting a new supplement. However, if you aren’t sure where to start, research any of these dietician-recommended Vitamin D supplements.


In the winter months, it’s more important than ever to get your daily dose of the sunshine vitamin. Luckily, even if it’s not sunny, you can still get your intake up and ensure that you get all of the benefits of vitamin D: from strong bones to a healthy immune system and more.

If you’re considering taking vitamin D supplements, schedule some time to talk with your local pharmacist. They can help you find the right vitamin for you and ensure you stay healthy this winter and beyond.

Don’t have a local pharmacy, or looking to find a new one? Our Pharmacy Finder can help you find a trusted pharmacy provider in your area.