Are you getting enough Vitamin D during winter months?

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Vitamin D is essential for our bodies. It helps promote bone growth, among other things, and not having enough can leave you feeling tired and your immune system weaker.

Shorter days, colder temps, cloudy skies, and every inch of your skin covered. It's not exactly the best recipe for getting some natural Vitamin D, and health experts say that's a problem.

"Most of the vitamin D we get is through the sun and our skin makes vitamin D when it comes in contact with certain rays from the sun," said UVM Medical Center dietician Bridget Shea. She says not only are people hunkering down indoors, but Vermont's winter sun isn't strong enough for our bodies to make vitamin D.

Certain foods have it, including fatty cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, or cod liver oil. Egg yolks, certain mushrooms and fortified foods like milk, orange juice, or cereals are also a big source.

But Shea says that is often not enough. "It's really hard to get enough just through food because the sources are pretty limited, so if it's wintertime, especially in Vermont, most people might need a supplement," she said.

She recommends Vitamin D3, which will boost your blood levels more and last longer, and says adults should take about 600 IUs. She says it's a pretty safe supplement.

"Always when you're seeking natural or alternative solutions, you want to make sure you talk to your health practitioner first," said Jennifer Foley at Healthy Living in South Burlington. She directs customers to the vitamin type that works best for them. They have Vitamin D gummies, capsules and liquids available and says she has to re-stock to keep them there. "This time of year there's definitely a higher call for vitamin D.

There is a blood test you can get to check your Vitamin D levels, but health experts say you probably don't need that unless you're at an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency or you've been supplementing and want to check your levels.

Click here for a more in-depth discussion about Vitamin D.