Spring is finally here, and many families are enjoying the warmer weather by planning their gardens. The fresh produce from gardens certainly improves our diets. As a bonus, gardening helps us be active! The Centers for Disease Control considers gardening a moderate intensity activity. Gardening helps get us the recommended 2 1/2 hours of activity we need each week. Working in a garden allows us to get vitamin D from the sun. It helps relieve stress. It might even lower our risk of dementia!
Vitamin D is not just for your bones! It’s also important for the health of your nerves, muscles, and immune system. Research suggests it can even help combat depression. Many Iowans have difficulty maintaining adequate vitamin D levels in the winter months, 40–75% of us being deficient.
It is recommended those up to the age of 70 years consume 600 International Units (IU) and those over the age of 70 consume 800 IU of vitamin D. We get vitamin D three ways: through our diet, our skin, and supplements. Yes, vitamin D is so important your body makes it with a little help from the sun!
In order to reach therapeutic levels described by research requires a supplement. You should always speak with your health care provider before taking any supplements. Eating vitamin D-rich foods during the winter months is especially important. Try these vitamin D-rich foods:
Fatty fish (e.g., tuna, wild salmon, sardines canned in oil; canned fish is just as good as fresh or frozen)