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Today is a hard day. While beautifully colored leaves are waltzing around in the air, I am watching my husband painfully trying to chew on a piece of buttered toast. Maybe not the best breakfast for someone with a severe outer ear infection. I move out of the room like a zombie and grab the raw milk from the refrigerator. I pour most of the cream in a glass and offer it to him.

This is our initiation into the cold, grey season. The Northwest settles into a monotonous, constant drizzle from now till April. There are sheets and sheets of dark grey clouds covering the sun. While the mysterious fog, the colorful leaves, and the chilling rain have their own charm (Stephanie Meyer located her famous Twilight series here) there are quite a few people who struggle with seasonal affective disorder, severe colds, and fatigue. Some experts link this to a chronic deficiency of vitamin D, especially in the Northern hemispheres.

Although scientists believe vitamin D to be a non-essential nutrient, as people are considered to be capable of metabolizing adequate amounts from the sun, very few people actually spend enough time outside to produce the necessary levels. And if you live in the Northwest, there is barely even enough during the warm season, much the less the winter.

While we are all aware of vitamin D as being essential for bone strength and calcium regulation, there are a few other functions good old vitamin D preforms in the body:

  • Plays a critical role in stimulating immature cells to become mature, functioning ones
  • It is a powerful antioxidant and anti carcinogenic
  • Decreases the risk of colon cancer, Alzheimers, and Multiple Sclerosis
  • Supports the immune system

In recent years, scientists have discovered a close connection between vitamin D deficiency and a weakened immune system. In a randomized trial, 744 Mongolian children were assigned different treatments for the winter (January-March). Some received 200 IU of vitamin D and some didn’t. The group receiving vitamin D supplementation had a significantly smaller number of respiratory infections. If you have been taking plenty of vitamin C this cold season and are still getting sick, consider finding a good source for vitamin D.

While vitamin D supplements are very beneficial, it can be complicated to figure out the proper dosage if you don’t have the finances to get your vitamin D levels checked out. A safe way to ensure that you are getting plenty of vitamin D on a daily basis is to eat plenty of naturally vitamin D rich food. Like:

  • Fermented cod liver oil
  • Catfish
  • oysters
  • Salmon
  • Shiitake mushrooms,
  • Tuna
  • Raw dairy
  • Egg yolks
  • Beef and chicken liver
Beerman and McGuire (2011) state:

Vitamin D toxicity from food sources is uncommon. It is the supplementation of vitamin D in high doses that causes calcium levels in the blood and urine to rise, resulting in hypercalcemia.
Nutritional Sciences, Page 501

In fact the best way to ensure that you are getting plenty of vitamin D is to take a teaspoon of cod liver oil in the morning.

My morning dose of raw milk.

 

The recommended daily value of vitamin D for adults is between 600 and 800 IU. However most experts recommend a much higher dose during the cold season, up to almost 2000 IU. One teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil contain 1950 IU! Wash your cod-liver down with raw milk or a two eggs over easy, and you will have your 2000 IU dose for the day.

The reason I recommend fermented cod liver oil, as opposed to fish oil or even regular cod liver oil, is because the fermentation process ensures a higher bioavailability of Vitamin D, A, EPA and DHA. Since fish oil is a polyunsaturated fat, it is extremely sensitive to heat. Fermented cod liver oil is extracted via fermentation – not heat – which ensures that the sensitive oil does not become oxidized. Oxidation will transform it  into toxic liquid that kills healthy blood cells. For more information about fermented cod liver oil, you can visit Weston Price’s website here.

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You can find a good source of fermented cod liver oil here.

The day my husband got sick I ran to the store and bought more cod liver oil. Twenty four hours later I began to develop a scratchy throat and muscle aches. I was functioning on four hours of sleep while acting as a nurse, making broth, and writing a paper. I upped my dose of cod liver oil to two tablespoons per day and waited to be swept off my feet to join my sick husband on the couch, but nothing happened. The next day I woke up and worked an eight hour shift with tons of energy and no muscle aches, fever, or sore throat. I didn’t get sick!

Do you get sick and depressed, like me, during the winter months?

You might have a vitamin D deficiency. Try getting your vitamin D levels checked if you can. If not, simply supplement with a naturally occurring source of vitamin D. It will make a huge difference in your quality of life during the long, dark, cold winter months.

This post is featured on SundayFunday,