As everyone knows, Northwest winters are pretty dark, wet, and gloomy. In any given year in the Seattle area,we only get a total of 58 sunny days! Compare that to 84 days in Chicago, 98 days in New York, 160 days in San Francisco, and 211 days in Phoenix! Exposure to sunshine is necessary for your body to produce vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in a few foods and also produced by the body when the skin is exposed to UV rays in sunlight. Among other things, Vitamin D is needed for regulation of blood calcium and phosphorus and proper bone growth and bone maintenance. Recent research on vitamin D suggests that it may help prevent osteoporosis, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and some autoimmune diseases.
Inadequate levels of vitamin D are fairly common in the Northwestern US. So I was not surprised at all when I was diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency last winter during a routine blood screening during my last physical exam. I had no symptoms, which is very common. The doctor recommended that I take a daily vitamin D supplement. So if you live in the Northwest or another area where sunny days are few and far between, you might want to ask your doctor about getting screened for vitamin D deficiency.