Importance of Vitamin D in the Winter

Written by UConn Dietetics student Lauren Pinto

When it comes to colder climates and the winter months, Vitamin D deficiencies can occur. Why is that a concern? Humans get 95% of their vitamin D from the sun!1 In the Northern Hemisphere, during our winter months, Vitamin D deficiencies are an issue due to lack of sun exposure and being inside more than usual. Vitamin D is important for the body because it helps strengthen bones and prevents brittle bones by letting the body absorb calcium. It also helps your immune system stay healthy, and keeps your muscles functioning well.1

For women and men ages 19 to 70, it is recommended to get around 15 mcg a day of vitamin D. For women and men ages 71 and older, vitamin D recommendations are higher at 20 mcg a day.2  For reference, a 3- ounce serving of salmon has 11 mcg. Some dairy examples include plain, nonfat yogurt with 4 mcg of vitamin D and skim and whole milk with 4 mcg of vitamin D.

Some side effects of a possible vitamin D deficiency include, but are not limited to, overall fatigue and tiredness, getting sick more than normal, depression, and bone and back pain. So, the big question… what are some ways to prevent vitamin D deficiencies during the winter? Taking a vitamin D supplement can help, but make sure to always consult with a doctor or dietitian before consuming supplements. Choosing food high in vitamin D is a good starting point when trying to prevent a deficiency in general, but specifically during the winter. Reaching daily recommendations of vitamin D can be accomplished by including good amounts of these foods in your diet. Check out the list below!

Foods Rich in Vitamin D2

  • Fatty fish (Salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, mackerel… canned varieties work well!)
  • Egg yolk
  • Mushroomswoman in winter hat and sunglasses
  • Pork chops
  • Cheese (muenster, Monterey, fontina, brie, and blue cheese… soft cheeses)

Look for Fortified Foods (it will say if it’s fortified on the nutrition label under “ingredients” or on the front of the container) 2

  • Cereal
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Bread
  • Milk (dairy and non-dairy)
  • Yogurt v
  • Orange juice


  1. Trimarche M. How much vitamin D do you get from the sun?. (n.d.) Retrieved from
  1. Nutrition Care Manual. Vitamin D food lists. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:1-2. Retrieved from


This material is funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

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