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How to Get Vitamin D in the Winter

Winter is the time of year people in Wisconsin talk about needing to get their vitamin D. The sun is at a lower angle, the clouds loom overhead, and many think it's a given that we're D-deficient. 

But the sun isn't the only way we get vitamin D, a point Dr. Alexander Arnold is making as the featured February speaking for UW-Milwaukee's Science Bag series. Arnold is an associated professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UW-Milwaukee, and will be taking on the science of vitamin D for the series. 

Interestingly, as a result of Wisconsin's dairy production, the state has been an avid supporter of the vitamin's nutritional benefits. "Wisconsin had a great impact on actually making sure that food is fortified with vitamin D and that vitamin D was noted as such an important vitamin," he explains. 

There are many foods that naturally contain vitamin D. "Most of them are products from animals. So for instance, milk by itself has a small amount. Butter, eggs, all these foods have a certain amount of vitamin D. Even mushrooms have a particular kind of vitamin D. So it is actually possible by selecting certain foods in your supermarket in order to be covered and have enough vitamin D," says Arnold. 

Cholesterol is the precursor necessary for creating vitamin D in the body. Since cholesterol is stored right under the skin, when sunlight hits the skin, animals with cholesterol convert it and contain it in their fat cells.

"Vitamin D is given through the food chain by one organism to the other one, so that is in important way for us in order to get some extra vitamin D if the sunlight or sun exposure is not sufficient," he explains. 

UW-Milwaukee's Science Bag series starts Friday, February 10, and will have events throughout the month at the physics building on the UW-Milwaukee campus.

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.