- Category: Health Tips
Physical fitness is a general state of health and well-being and, more specifically, the ability to perform aspects of sports or occupations. Physical fitness is generally achieved through correct nutrition, moderate-vigorous physical activity, exercise and rest. It is a set of attributes or characteristics seen in people and which relate to the ability to perform a given set of physical activities.
There are lots of walks in life: the catwalk, the moonwalk, the walk of shame. But for most of us, walking is just a great way to get around. It’s also one of the easiest forms of exercise, since it requires no equipment and minimal training.
If you want to get a real workout in during your daily walk, you’ll need to challenge your cardiovascular system enough to at least hit a moderate intensity level. You can do that by picking up the pace, adding an incline (hello, hills!), or walking a longer distance.
But how do you know if you’ve reached the right intensity level? Well, according to the CDC, moderate intensity means you should be able to talk but not quite able to sing.
If you’re not willing to belt out a ballad to see if you’re working hard enough, you can also check your heart rate. It should be between 64% and 76% of your maximum heart rate.
Before you get too caught up in the details, know that walking in all forms and at all paces is still good for you. According to Dr. Robert Graham at FRESH Medicine at Physio Logic NYC, “All exercise counts. Exercise helps everything from preventing heart disease to depression.”
But if you’re looking to use walking as your daily sweat sesh, when does it become cardio?
“Cardio” — short for “cardiovascular exercise” — refers to activity that involves or requires oxygen to meet the energy demands of your body. Any activity that increases your heart rate and respiration rate while using large muscles repetitively and rhythmically (yep, including sex) can fit the bill.
But what does “moderate intensity” even mean? According to Graham, a moderate level of activity noticeably increases your heart rate and breathing rate.
“Simply put, you may sweat, but you are still able to carry on a conversation. You can talk, but you can’t sing,” he says.
You can also check your heart rate to see if your efforts are up to snuff. The CDC says your heart rate should be between 64% and 76% of your maximum heart rate during moderate intensity exercise.
To start, you’ll need to find your maximum heart rate. It’s not a perfect science, but you can estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
For example, if you’re 30, your maximum heart rate is about 190 beats per minute (bpm).
You then need to find 64% and 76% of your maximum heart rate to determine your moderate intensity heart rate range.
So, if your max heart rate is 190 bpm, your moderate intensity heart rate range is 121 to 144 bpm.
You’ve got options. To increase your walking intensity, you can add an incline, pick up your pace, or walk a longer distance — or all of the above!
The specific incline, pace, and distance you’ll need to tackle to achieve moderate intensity totally depends on your activity level, weight, and health history. No two walkers are the same, so what feels like an easy stroll for you could be a moderate intensity walk for your BFF, or vice versa.
According to the CDC, a “brisk walking” pace for most people is 3 miles or 5 kilometers per hour, or about 20 minutes per mile and 12 minutes per kilometer. Walking faster than 4 miles per hour (under 15 minutes per mile) is considered a fast pace — and definitely cardio.
Not sure what pace you’re walking at? Put a little pep in your step during your next walk. See if you break a small sweat. Or next time you hit the gym, get on the treadmill and set the pace to 3 miles per hour to get a feel for it. Then ask yourself if you can safely increase the pace to 3.5 or 4 miles per hour and maintain that pace for at least 30 minutes.
Walking is exercise — and it comes with a lot of benefits.
“Walking improves everything, [including] general fitness, cardiac health, depression, and fatigue. It improves mood, reduces the risk for cancer and numerous chronic diseases, [and] improves circulation and even posture,” says Graham.
Wondering if running might be even better for you than walking?
A 2013 study compared the results of a National Runners’ Health Study with those of a National Walkers’ Health Study and found that the energy used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease over a 6-year period.
So yes, running is an excellent workout, but you’ll see a lot of the same benefits from slowin’ it down a bit.
If you want to see some major benefits from walking, challenge yourself by increasing your intensity to at least a moderate level. You can do that by walking faster, picking a longer walking route, or hitting the hills.
Moderate intensity walks are super beneficial for your body (and your mood) and may be just as effective as running in warding off chronic diseases and health conditions that can lead to much bigger problems. And how many of your favorite workouts can you do at every age? Walking wins.
Plus, it’s fun. Hit the pavement with a friend, enjoy a stroll with your pup, or catch up on your favorite podcast while you’re out and about. Need more than that? Try picking a fun destination or using a fitness tracker to keep a step count competition going with your friends or co-workers.
Although you might be long past the stage of teenage angst, adult acne could still be rearing its ugly head due to clogged pores, bacteria, or hormones.
After trying every skin care product, cream, and medication out there, the search for consistent clarity can persist.
Now, you may have heard that exercise brings quite a few health benefits. But when it comes to ensuring acne-free skin, that’s still being debated.
The answer is both yes and no. A vigorous workout helps to release endorphins, which then reduces stress and inflammation and improves skin condition. However, due to bacteria being trapped in your skin after a sweaty workout, it can be argued that exercise can increase the chances of breakouts.
Let’s take a closer look at the power exercise can have when it comes to managing acne.
It happens when your pores and hair follicles become clogged. These iddy-biddy openings in your skin can get jammed-up with oil and dead skin cells, which then become swollen and infected.
A pimple or pustule is your body’s natural inflammatory reaction to this situation. In other words, a zit is your body’s attempt at cleaning the bad stuff from your pores.
Acne usually affects teenagers, but may affect you into adulthood. Most people in their 30s and beyond are considered to be beyond the stage of acne woes. Nevertheless, it can still affect you in your 40s and 50s, albeit less commonly.
Your skin’s oil production plays a role in the likelihood of developing acne — as more oil = a greater chance of clogged pores. But it’s not just oil. Scientists speculate that hormone changes are also involved. Again, this adds up as many people experience acne during their teenage years or during pregnancy. Both are times that coincide with extreme hormonal fluctuations.
Many people blame acne flare-ups on certain types of food — we’re talking chocolate, pizza, and other foods that are considered to be greasy. But don’t panic yet. There is little evidence to back up this claim, so the candy remains fair game.
High blood sugar levels cause insulin levels to rise, which then increases androgen production. Androgens are hormones that act on the oil glands, seducing them into producing way too much oil, and you know where this is going.
Stress can also be a contributing factor for some peeps. While stress itself doesn’t cause acne, it can worsen the situation. Why? Because stress causes low-grade inflammation, which can work its way out on your skin.
The most helpful thing that exercise can do for you when it comes to managing acne is relieving stress. While stress can’t cause acne by itself, it can def worsen it. And aside from meditation, a warm bubble bath, or an appointment in a rage room, getting physical is one of the best ways to say sayonara to stress.
Regular workouts, in any format (Jazzercise anyone?), boost hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These jolly little chemicals are responsible for making you feel happy and energized, and they regulate those anxious feelings that get you down.
Physical activity also levels out your blood sugar levels, which we already covered can lead to oily skin and acne production. So, logically, keeping your levels in check through exercise helps prevent acne.
Exercising also boosts your circulation, meaning that every tissue in your body receives more oxygen, which your skin loves. To max out these oxygen-consumption benefits, try incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your routine. These HIIT exercises will increase your metabolism and oxygen levels even after the workout has ended. Good for you, bad for your acne.
Even though there are no exercises that target acne specifically, any and all exercise can do you some good in that area — providing you keep your skin clean on a regular basis.
The crucial thing will be to find a form of exercise that you’re genuinely fulfilled by. Being consistently fulfilled by your workout improves the way you see yourself, which can boost your mood, reduce stress, and ultimately increase the likelihood that you stick with a routine that benefits you.
That said, workouts that really get your heart pumping for a consistent amount of time are especially beneficial.
Think exercises like:
Plus, the great thing about these exercises is you only need to shade out short bursts of time on your schedule. That’s great news if you find sticking to hour-long workouts impossible.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are low intensity workouts. If you’ve concluded that your acne is mostly related to your stress levels, incorporating yoga and other mindfulness techniques into your routine can help you lower the pressure and reduce your skin concerns.
When exercising, you’re going to sweat — particularly on your head and face.
Your workout juices can keep acne-causing bacteria trapped on your face. Also, when that sweat combines with heat and friction, your pores can clog, leading to acne.
So, while sweat itself doesn’t cause acne, it does encourage your skin to develop acne if you don’t clean it off directly after a workout.
On top of this clogging effect, you’re probably rubbing more bacteria onto your skin as you try to swipe away sweat midworkout. And that, my friend, is a surefire way of asking for acne if you fall short on a quality cleaning.
While exercise can ultimately be helpful, all that hard-earned sweat you produce traps dirt and oil on your skin. So, you need to wash it away post-workout to reap those acne-busting benefits. If you know you can’t access a shower directly after, consider carrying some skin wipes for acne-prone skin with you.
In fact, you should be thinking about your skin even before you work out. If you’re wearing makeup, get rid of it to keep your pores from getting jammed with gunk as you exercise.
What about workout gear? Yes, those scrunched butt leggings are sexy AF, but it’s actually better for your skin if you wear loose-fitting clothing at the gym. Tight or snug clothing can rub against your skin, causing irritation and effectively massaging sweat and oils into your pores and hair follicles.
Also, don’t forget to take those nasty gym clothes off straight away when you’re done since they’re likely sweaty, and gross, which can also irritate your skin.
And if swimming’s more your thing, you’re at an increased risk of having breakouts because of the chlorine in pools. Yes, chlorine prevents you from having zits, but it also strips your skin of its natural oils. Your dried out skin then overcompensates by producing too much oil, which can lead to acne.
It’s all good, though, as some good washing and moisturizing after a dip will replenish the lost oils.
Acne is a common skin condition caused by pores and hair follicles becoming clogged with oil and dead skin cells.
There are no specific exercises to get rid of acne. However, all physical activity helps because it improves circulation, increases oxygen uptake, and moderates blood sugar levels — which is beneficial to skin.
After exercising, it’s important to shower, remove exercise clothing, and moisturize your skin (especially after swimming) to prevent acne.
Contrary to popular belief, greasy food and chocolate do not affect acne, but stress may play a role.
If your acne tends to get worse when you’re stressed, try yoga and other mindfulness activities to reduce it.
This list has been curated by our Books Editor based on books she’s read or sampled, and books that have great Goodreads reviews.
Whether you want to add some (literal) spice to your fave summer meal, make the world’s most heavenly ice cream sundae, or create a charcuterie board that would stop Martha in her tracks, you’re in the right place.
Not only is this book display-worthy with its gorgeous copper foil lettering on the spine and cover, its contents will have you whipping up stunning charcuterie boards that you’ll be tempted to display all over social media. Watch out, Instagram!
Snackers and grazers take note. There are sections for all kinds of spreads — whether you’re going for something casual, interactive, or a holiday showstopper. Plus, there’s recipes and sections on how to enhance other parts of your table, and tips for prep, portions, and tons of details on styling. We especially love the choose-your-own-adventure illustration for figuring out how to build your spread. 😍
If you were into those “mix and match” books when you were a kid, this flippable mix and match recipe book may bring back some serious nostalgia. It’s an ice cream recipe book that’s seriously fun — no matter how old you are.
The pages are divided horizontally into three sections: toppings, ice cream flavors, and bases. Each card contains ingredients and directions — all you need to do is randomly flip each section to create a surprise combination. There are 3,375 possible combinations from the 45 recipe cards.
We landed on mascarpone rum ice cream on a base of chocolate pie crust cookies, topped with caramel sprinkles, and we’re not sorry about it. 🤤
Written by a food activist and co-founder of an organic food brand, this cookbook is designed to help you ditch processed foods and figure out what ingredients you should be buying from the grocery store in order to do so (think: how to really read labels, and an ultimate list of things to avoid when stocking your pantry).
There are more than 100 recipes made from simple, nutritious food. The first section teaches you how to set your kitchen (and shopping list) up for success and the second section contains the recipes — from Turkey and Red Pepper Egg “Muffins” and homemade ginger ale to Better Than Takeout Pad Thai, Healing Turmeric Hummus, and homemade Fig Newtons. Yum.
From renowned chef and physician Linda Shiue comes a collection of 175 vegetarian and pescatarian recipes from her own kitchen. Recipes are divided into sections: California, Asia, Mediterranean and the Middle East, and Trinidad.
Each section is filled with veggielicious treats for your taste buds: from Smokin’ Hot Vegan Vaquero Chili to Smoky Cauliflower Steak with Romesco. Shiue also shares her philosophy and tips for healthy cooking, plus plenty of stunning photos to energize every kitchen sesh.
We’re all looking for ways to get more veggies into our lives, and this cookbook was literally made to make it easy (and delicious) AF.
Author Samah Dada is all about using real, unprocessed ingredients in new ways, and she draws on her Indian roots for many of her 100+ plant-based recipes. Plus, a lot of these recipes are vegan, allergen-free, gluten-free, and grain-free, so there are plenty of recipes for basically anyone in these pages.
Chilled Chaat Masala Chickpea Salad anyone? And don’t even get us started on the dessert section — we’re drooling over the Sticky Date Cake with Salted Toffee Caramel Glaze.
This is not a cookbook, but there are 20 delish Vietnamese recipes. It’s a memoir of food, unlikely friendship, survival, perseverance, and a small restaurant near Miami’s Little Havana that turned into a nationally acclaimed destination.
It’s told from the perspective of both Tung Nyguen (who escaped the fall of Saigon in 1975) and Kathy Manning (who was taking in displaced Vietnamese refugees). Together they raised Tung’s daughter, and turned a tiny eatery into the popular restaurant Hy Vong — with their signature mango and peppercorns sauce.
Picture this: It’s 87 degrees, you’re in the mood to whip up a fun meal, but the idea of turning your oven on makes you want to vom. We’ve all been there. That’s exactly what this book is for — keepin’ you (and your kitchen) cool.
Eat Cool contains more than 100 recipes that are easy, delish, and use no- or low-heat techniques, plus make-ahead dishes that you can serve cold or at room temp. You’ll find ideas for breakfast, snacks, salads, soups, sandwiches, main courses, drinks, and desserts inspired by “culinary common sense,” as the author says, from around the globe.
If you’ve ever watched recipe videos online, then you’ve probably seen this guy on YouTube — his entertaining-yet-extremely-useful cooking videos captivate millions (seriously, this video from earlier this summer has more than a million views.) If you haven’t seen his videos, prepare to fall into a rabbit hole, and eventually emerge ready to eat all the things.
At just 25 years old, this chef and food blogger/vlogger is now also a cookbook author. With these 100 recipes, he encourages readers to actually take the time to make things from scratch because fast doesn’t always mean better.
If you’re over eating frozen dinners and getting let down by cookbooks promising great taste in 5 minutes, this is for you. You might laugh, try something new, and learn to love the process of cooking.
Naomi Farr is the books editor and a copy editor at Greatist. She loves focusing on all things books, beauty, wellness, and mental health. She’s also a YA fantasy writer and bookstagrammer. You can find her (and her cat) @avioletlife
You might picture yoga as a mostly solo operation — saying “om” while in Sukhasana doesn’t exactly require a buddy, after all. Plus, doing it on your own is a great way to re-center, relieve stress, and improve your overall health.
But partner yoga is also a thing, and it’s def worth a try. After all, “yoga” means “union” in Sanskrit, and the practice is truly about connection — whether with yourself, the universe, or even another person.
You don’t need to be boos or BFFs to do it, either — it’s all about what you’re most comfortable with.
Yoga for two means double the fun and flexibility, right? If you’re up for it, here are the top five partner moves to try.
Posing with a partner carries many potential benefits, including:
Partner yoga means leaning on someone else — both literally and metaphorically. At the same time, in a balancing act, you also need to hold the other person up.
Whether you’re engaging with someone you barely know or your S.O., it can enhance communication and trust in all areas of your life.
In a 2010 study from the British Psychological Society, coordinated nonverbal movement (like what’s needed for alternate breathing and couples’ poses) helped couples feel “more attuned to each other.”
OK, so you’ve heard that yoga can help you de-stress. But when you partner up, you might be getting some bonus relaxation and relief through the power of touch.
According to a 2020 review, physical touch can have a powerful calming effect that promotes mental and physical health and a sense of safety. When you practice yoga with a pal, a loved one, or even someone you’ve just met, it may help you feel a little more at peace in the world.
Trying out partner yoga with your S.O. not only will improve your back flexibility but also may improve your relationship.
Plus, while this research is pretty old, a 2000 study suggests that couples who try challenging new activities together feel an enhanced sense of relationship quality and romantic attraction. Who says you have to go skydiving when you can try couples’ yoga instead?
For intimate partners, doing couples’ yoga might boost arousal and sexual satisfaction. Some sexual wellness experts suggest partner yoga may help couples who are struggling with sexual dysfunction in particular.
Although couples’ yoga isn’t sexual in nature, its emphasis on synchronized breath, posture, and movement just might carry over to the bedroom.
Don’t get it twisted: Just because you’re in close contact doesn’t mean you can’t cross the line. Here are some tips for keeping things appropriately aligned during partner yoga:
If you want to try partner yoga but don’t already have someone in mind who might be down to Downward Dog with you, here’s where to start:
Partner yoga, which involves doing joint poses, is great for intimate and platonic partners alike.
Research suggests it may enhance communication and trust, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase relationship satisfaction. And trying it with your S.O. might just rev up your sex life.
When you try it, just make sure you communicate boundaries and take it slow.
Your bod makes it when exposed to sunlight (and can get it from some foods), but sometimes you still might not get enough. In fact, about 1 billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency. And about 50 percent of the population has an insufficiency (meaning they don’t have a full deficiency, but they’re definitely not getting enough vitamin D).
Thankfully, if you aren’t getting enough of the D, you can take an over-the-counter (OTC) supplement. Not sure which one you should take? We got you — here’s a list of the best vitamin D supplements to take when the sun just ain’t cutting it.
Knowing this is something you’re going to be putting in your bod, we held our picks to high standards. Here are the criteria we used:
We put all of our products through a rigorous medical and business vetting process. This process checks whether companies are doing anything shady (like saying its products cure certain diseases), if their products use evidence-based ingredients, and if they’ve received any FDA/FTC warning letters. We only included products from companies that passed this process and have strict standards for quality and purity.
There are actually two forms of vitamin D — D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). The only difference is in the chemical side chains, but both are well absorbed in the gut. Supplements can be made with either D2 or D3, but most research shows that vitamin D3 increases the level of vitamin D in your blood to a greater extent and for longer than D2 does. For that reason, we only included vitamin D3 supplements.
Supplements are a dime a dozen — one Google search will show you thousands to choose from. We chose products that had great reviews from A LOT of people.
Instead of being jam packed with every vitamin and mineral under the sun, this multivitamin was developed to fill nutrient gaps according to your sex and age. The company’s motto is “less is more” — so you aren’t getting unnecessary nutrients that you’re likely getting plenty of from the food you eat.
Considerations: Before taking any supplement it’s important to check with a healthcare professional. If they’ve given you the thumbs up on a vitamin D supplement, but you’re wanting to go with the multivitamin combo, get another thumbs up for the rest of the vitamins included in this all-in-one option.
How to take it: Take 2 capsules per day to receive 2000 IU (50 micrograms / mcg) of vitamin D for both men and women.
Take a quick quiz and you have all your nutrient needs personalized based on your answers. Care/Of offers two vitamin D options: vegan D3 — which is sourced from algae — and a regular D3 (both 1000 IU or 25 mcg).
Considerations: As fun as it is to rip open a personalized vitamin pouch with your name on it, this kind of service might end up costing you more money than taking a vitamin D supp on its own.
How to take it: 1 a day capsule (1000 IU or 25 mcg) with a meal
Another subscription-based company that has you complete a quick questionnaire to determine your personalized vitamin and mineral needs. Persona provides 3 vitamin D options:
Considerations: Again, going the ultra-personalized route can wind up being costly since you get what’s tailored to you sent right to your door. So while it’s convenient (and cool AF), it’s prob cheaper just ordering a vitamin D supplement.
How to take it: 1 capsule every day to get in 1000 IU (25 mcg) of vitamin D
Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, consuming it with a fatty meal can help your body absorb the vitamin. A 2015 study found that plasma vitamin D3 levels were 32 percent greater in people who took the supplement with a fat-containing meal compared to a fat-free meal. This specific supplement is infused with coconut oil, so the fat comes along with it!
Considerations: Although the addition of coconut oil can help with absorption, it also means that folks with an allergy to tree nuts may need to choose a different D3 supplement. If you’re allergic to nuts, steer clear unless your doctor gives the OK.
How to take it: Take 1 softgel per day, which provides 5,000 IU (125 mcg) of vitamin D.
This D3 supplement uses cold-pressed organic olive oil to help with absorption, so this softgel is a better option for people with tree nut allergies. It’s also free of the top eight major food allergens: wheat, soy, dairy, corn, eggs, peanuts, fish, and shellfish.
Considerations: One downside is that this product isn’t vegan — the capsules are made with gelatin.
How to take it: Take 1 softgel per day for 5,000 IU (125 mcg) of vitamin D3.
These chewables are packaged in the USA and made in an FDA-regulated facility. With each chewable tablet, you’ll get 2,000 IU of vitamin D without any gluten, lactose, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors or colors.
A lot of reviewers say these vitamins are super easy to chew, since they’re small and have a tolerable flavor.
Considerations: These vitamins contain artificial sugar to keep them from tasting like bitter chalk. Artificial sugars are regulated by the FDA but can cause digestive issues for some people who are more sensitive to them.
How to take it: Take 1 tablet per day with a meal — this will provide 2,000 IU (50 mcg) of vitamin D.
Want a gummy supplement that tastes like candy but is actually good for you and any kiddos? These organic fruity gummies include strawberry, lemon, and orange flavors and support strong bones and immune health. Even though they’re advertised as kids’ vitamins, we promise they’ll benefit you too (and we won’t tell 🤫).
Considerations: These gummies have a bit of added sugar (1 gram, to be exact) to make them tolerable for the little ones. They also use organic natural flavors and colors.
How to take it: Adults and kids age 2 and older can take 1 gummy daily for 1,000 IU of D3.
The addition of calcium and fruit/veggie powder sets this supplement apart to give your bones some extra love. Like vitamin D, calcium is important for strong bones — and your body needs vitamin D to help it absorb calcium. These gummies are also gelatin-free and gluten-free.
Considerations: Due to the ingredients, a 2-gummy dose contains 25 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates. And you’ll need to stock up on these — with 60 gummies per container and a dosage of 2 gummies twice a day, you’ll go through them quickly.
How to take it: Take 2 gummies (2,000 IU of D3 and 520 mg of calcium total) twice daily, with or without food.
If you’re forgetful, you’ll like that you only have to take this supplement once every 2 days. They also come from a brand that’s known for high quality supplements and they’re free of the top eight allergens.
Considerations: If you’re vegetarian or vegan, this one is a no-go since it’s made with bovine gelatin.
How to take it: Take 1 capsule (5,000 IU or 125 mcg) every 2 days with a fat-containing meal.
This product is also free of the major allergens and has simple dosing that can make it easy to use for both kids and adults.
Considerations: Due to the addition of vitamin K, this may not be a good option for you if you’re on blood-thinning medication. Vitamin K can counteract the effects of those medications.
How to take it: Take 2 drops one to three times daily (2 drops contain 1,000 IU or 25 mcg of vitamin D3).
A lot of vitamin D3 supplements are made from lanolin (sheep’s wool), but that just doesn’t work in the vegan lifestyle. This supplement is made from wild-harvested lichen, which is a fungus. Since fungi grow outdoors, they’re exposed to UVB rays. 😎
This product also doesn’t contain GMOs, soy, gluten, dairy, corn, nuts, additives, preservatives, or coloring.
Considerations: It comes only in capsule form, which some people may not prefer, and it’s one of the pricier options on our list.
How to take it: Take 1 capsule daily with food (5,000 IU or 125 mcg).
If capsules aren’t your thing, these chewables are certified organic, non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free. They contain a mixture of lichen and organic mushroom for D3. Mushrooms could contain more than 10 micrograms of vitamin D, depending on their UV exposure.
This product also contains an organic food blend (a mixture of flaxseed, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach) for added nutrients. Even the raspberry-lemon flavor is created with organic flavoring and no added sugar or artificial sweetener.
Considerations: The quantity is on the small side. With only a 30-day supply, you’ll need to reorder more often.
How to take it: Chew 1 tablet daily, which will give you 5,000 IU (50 mcg) of vitamin D.
The sun doesn’t shine all the time, and it’s possible you don’t always get enough vitamin D from food. If you live in a place where it rains, sleets, and snows, it’s not always possible to get enough vitamin D from the sun.
Certain individuals and populations are also at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, including:
Another challenge: Your body needs UVB radiation in order to absorb sunlight and convert it to usable vitamin D3. UV radiation is considered a carcinogen and is one of the biggest reasons for skin cancer. Using sunscreen blocks UV exposure, which reduces your risk of cancer but also blocks some vitamin D-producing UV rays.
When you’re deficient in vitamin D, your body will give you a heads up. Some common symptoms you may notice if your levels are too low include:
Many of these symptoms could be coming from other issues too, so getting your blood levels checked can determine if you’re deficient.
Vitamin D is also important for a healthy pregnancy. Some research suggests that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is associated with preeclampsia and preterm birth.
Before diving into the world of vitamin D supplementation, call up your doctor and get your blood levels tested. This is the only way you’ll know if you have a vitamin D deficiency. From there, your doc will be able to determine a dose that’s ideal for you.
You may have noticed that all the vitamin D supplements on this list surpass the recommended intakes we mentioned earlier. There’s also a daily upper limit of 100 mcg (4,000 IU) for children over 9 years old, adults, and folks who are pregnant or breastfeeding. A severe deficiency sometimes requires a larger dose at first, followed by maintenance dosage.
When you browse this list or go shopping for a vitamin D supplement, consider your specific needs. Do you prefer capsules, gummies, or liquid? There are a bunch of options, so pick one that works with your current routine and preferences.
It’s also important to pay close attention to ingredients so you don’t choose a product that contains something you’re allergic to or that you avoid for personal reasons. Third-party certifications like United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) are also a bonus!
So what’s the best way to take vitamin D supplements?
Even if a supplement says you can take it on an empty belly, vitamin D seems to do best with a meal. This is especially true when paired with a meal higher in fat. One study showed adults taking vitamin D with a fat-heavy meal had a 32 percent boost in vitamin D blood levels after 12 hours compared to those taking the supp with a fat-free meal.
Should you take vitamin D morning, noon, or night? Honestly, it’s up to you and your preferences. There seems to be no “ideal” time, although some research claims it may be best to take in the morning rather than at night. That’s because increased vitamin D levels may suppress melatonin — the hormone responsible for regulating our snooze cycle — according to a 2018 article.
If you’re an expecting mama, vitamin D is usually recommended to be part of your daily supplement routine. You should confirm with your doctor how much is safe for you, specifically.
When your body needs vitamin D and you’re taking the proper dosage, chances are you won’t experience any side effects.
On the other hand, because Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (which means your body stores excess if you take too much rather than peeing it out), taking too much long-term can cause excessive build-up in your body and bring about some unwanted side effects.
These could include:
tl;dr: Always talk with a doctor before starting a vitamin D supplement (or any supplement, really).
If you’re not ready to hop on the supplement train, you’re able to get in vitamin D through food and sunshine (although it’s a little more complicated). There aren’t many foods that naturally contain vitamin D, but the National Institute of Health stating fatty fish and fish oils are among the best sources. The top 3 food sources include:
Your skin also absorbs UV rays from the sun and coverts it into vitamin D. The amount you get is all dependent on time of day, cloud coverage, skin melanin, and sunscreen. Some researchers claim getting outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for about 5 to 30 minutes twice per week will lead to sufficient vitamin D synthesis.
If the sun ain’t shining (or you’re a stay-in-the-shade type), a vitamin D supplement can be a super effective way to meet your daily D needs. Just remember to check with your doctor to get the A-OK before you start taking a vitamin D supplement in the first place and figure out what dosage you need. Once you confirm that you definitely need the D (😏 ), use this list as your starting point for finding the supp that suits you best.