Spring Sunshine Is Lovely, But Does It Guarantee Sufficient Vitamin D Levels?
I have been living for the early days of spring. Between the chirping birds and rays of sunshine in the morning, the earthy smells after rain, and the first few flower buds poking their heads out of the newly sprouted green grass, my days have been filled with some of my favorite sights, sounds, and smells. Spring has definitely sprung, and I couldn't be happier!
It's these kinds of mindful moments in nature that make us forget the seasons of our lives that are a little bit tougher on our mental, emotional, and physical health (*cough cough* winter). If you're feeling as good as I am lately, perhaps you're reevaluating your need for feel-good nutrients (like good old vitamin D).
But just because the spring sunshine is here to stay doesn't mean our need for vitamin D supplementation is going anywhere.
Why we could all use some more vitamin D.
The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (VDD) and insufficiency is shocking—29% of the U.S. adult population1 is deficient, while 41% are insufficient in the "sunshine vitamin." What's more, 93% of us2 can't even manage to eat 400 IU of this critical nutrient each day. Vitamin D promotes the optimal health and function of your bones, muscles, heart, gastrointestinal tract, hormones, brain, and immune system (to name a few), so not getting enough can have profound and vast impacts on your whole-body health.*
While people living at higher latitudes (i.e., farther from the equator) that experience colder, darker climates through the winter are more prone to VDD, the presence of sunshine alone (whether throughout the year or during warmer spring and summer months) is not enough to make a significant impact on vitamin D status.
In fact, a 2017 study on healthy Mexican adults over the age of 55 found that despite living in an area that has adequate sunlight during all seasons but winter, VDD was prevalent among participants year-round. Interestingly, researchers found that vitamin D status was affected by factors such as age, weight, waist circumference, and gender but did not find a correlation between sun exposure or dietary intake of vitamin D and VDD.
Translation: Just because the sun is out doesn't mean it's time to toss your bottle of vitamin D aside.
Do I need to take vitamin D in the spring?
Although the weather is warming up and sunny days are becoming increasingly common, now is not the time to ditch your vitamin D supplement. It's ridiculously difficult to reach sufficient vitamin D status with sunshine alone, even if you live in a location that's relatively sunny year-round (like Mexico, for example).
While spring is here and the sun is making an appearance in our lives on a more regular basis, unfortunately, those joyful, sunshiney feelings you're getting from being outside more don't guarantee vitamin D sufficiency.
The bottom line.
To achieve healthy vitamin D status, consider high-quality supplementation to complement the fantastic springtime mood you're in.* Taking a high-potency vitamin D supplement like mbg's vitamin D potency+ (which includes a trio of organic avocado, flax, and olive oils for optimal bioavailability) can promote sufficient vitamin D levels—no matter how much time you spend in the sunshine.*
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.