A hand holds a sun with a carton of milk, vitamin D supplements, and fish floating around it.

How to Boost Your Vitamin D Intake

Vitamin D works together with calcium to promote bone strength. When vitamin D is not available in adequate amounts, the bones can suffer.

In the summer, we're usually exposed to more sunlight. When our body is exposed to sunlight, it can make its own vitamin D. Vitamin D is often called the "sun vitamin" for this reason.1

But during the colder winter months, or when you just aren't getting much sunlight exposure, are there other sources of vitamin D? Let's take a look.

What are sources of vitamin D?

Foods

Vitamin D is not found in many foods. Milk is often fortified with vitamin D. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, are some food sources with higher amounts of vitamin D.1

Sun exposure

Exposure to sunlight helps the body make vitamin D on its own. Vitamin D comes in 2 forms: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).2

Supplements

Vitamin D3 is often used as a supplement. If you have any specific questions or concerns about your vitamin D levels, or whether or not you should be on a supplement, be sure to consult your doctor.

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Why is vitamin D important for people with diabetes?

While vitamin D is essential to promote bone health, the body needs vitamin D for other bodily functions, too. Muscles, nerves, and the immune system all use vitamin D to function properly.2

In adults, vitamin D deficiency may lead to osteomalacia, which causes bone softening and increases the risk of breaks or fractures. In children, vitamin D deficiency may lead to rickets, causing bowing of the legs.1

Insulin resistance

Per the American Diabetes Association, low vitamin D levels may play a role in insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when the body can't seem to use the insulin it produces on its own. 3

A recent study found that people in the hospital with diabetes-related foot ulcers had more severe ulcers the lower their vitamin D levels were. It also found that vitamin D deficiency was more common in those patients who had foot ulcers than those who did not.3

Another study suggests that higher vitamin D levels may lead to a lower risk of insulin resistance. The research showed that with each additional vitamin D supplement, the rate of developing insulin resistance decreased. It's thought that this may indicate vitamin D3's ability to aid in decreasing inflammation. Inflammation is known to raise your risk of insulin resistance.3

How do I increase my vitamin D levels?

Here are a few ideas for getting more vitamin D through nutrition. Talk to your doctor or registered dietitian before implementing these ways of increasing your vitamin D levels.

If you have a difficult time tolerating tuna or salmon, here are a few recipes to try to tone down that fishy taste:

  • Make a tuna noodle casserole
  • Enjoy tuna salad, mixed with mayonnaise and relish
  • Try baking salmon, fresh salmon marinated in pesto sauce
  • Cook a salmon stir fry with rice and vegetables

Also, try adding vitamin D-fortified milk to your daily intake. Add fortified milk to your coffee, in cereal, or even as a beverage with a snack. One cup of vitamin D-fortified milk contains about 100 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, and 12 grams of carbohydrates.

What are some ways you boost your vitamin D?

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