A nutritionist has explained how you can keep your Vitamin D levels up in the winter months.

You might already know that our bodies turn sunlight on our skin into Vitamin D without us having to anything at all.

However, we might need to consider other methods in the winter - it is the UK after all! - to make sure we're getting enough of the core vitamin. 

Between the months of April and September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D intake they need through direct sunlight.

However, between October and March, in the UK we get an average of just 9.39 hours of sunlight each day, meaning we need to source other ways of boosting our vitamin D intake.

With this in mind, UK Registered Nutritionist and Head Chef, Anna Tebbs from recipe box delivery service Green Chef, has shared their advice on keeping your vitamin D levels up in the winter, with useful tips and tricks when it comes to planning meals. 

Why is Vitamin D so important in our diet?

“Vitamin D is a key nutrient for maintaining healthy teeth, bones and muscles because it helps your body to regulate and absorb calcium more effectively," according to the Head Chef.

The registered nutritionist added: “Those with a vitamin D deficiency might experience negative side effects such as muscle and bone aches, and fatigue.

“According to the British Heart Foundation, most people need around 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day, but on average, we consume less than three micrograms.

"And in the winter, it’s especially important to consider ways of maintaining vitamin D levels in your diet when we’re exposed to less sunlight.”

What foods are highest in vitamin D?

Anna recommends that you always check the nutrient level of any food on the packaging and ingredients list but she has also suggested that some of the highest vitamin D rich foods are:

  • Types of oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon
  • Egg yolks
  • Mushrooms
  • Milk replacements, including soy and almond
  • Some breakfast cereals

How can I increase my vitamin D levels in winter?

On top of Vitamin D rich foods like oily fish, the UK Registered Nutritionist has shared some other simple alternatives to help maintain your vitamin D levels.

“The simplest way to increase your vitamin D levels through your diet, is by increasing your mushroom intake," Anna recommends.

The expert continued: "Particularly paying close attention to portobello, button and chestnut mushrooms that have been grown in the sunlight or under a UV lamp.

"You can usually find this information on the packaging".

The nutritionist explained that making "this quick and easy swap" can not only help to reduce your meat intake, but can be used as a healthier plant-based alternative. 

She continued: “Plant Based News recommends that a portion of mushrooms between 80g-100g can provide you with all your daily vitamin D needs.

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"This amounts to one large portobello mushroom, 11-14 button mushrooms, or just 4-5 chestnut mushrooms. 

“You can also increase your intake by carefully choosing milk alternatives that have been fortified with vitamin D and calcium.

"Typically, in the UK cow’s milk is not fortified, so making this swap can help to increase your vitamin D levels with very little impact on your daily diet.”