Are You Getting Enough Sun and Vitamin D?
August 17, 2017
Did you know that your body produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight? However, despite this unique ability, 40%-75% of people are deficient in vitamin D.
This is because there are just too many factors that affect your skin’s ability to produce vitamin D. They include season, time of day, air pollution, presence of clouds, age, color and whether you are wearing sunscreen.
These reasons, coupled with the fact that vitamin D is not naturally present in most of our foods, mean that we often have to take supplements.
Why Do You Need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D has a well-established role in bone health. Its deficiency leads to low bone mass, osteoporosis, stiffness and muscles aches.
Vitamin D also plays a very important role in repairing damaged cells and boosting the immune system. This is why the body has 200 different cell types that have receptors for vitamin D.
Finally, studies suggest that vitamin D has the ability to reduce the risk of depression, weight gain, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune diseases. This alone should make you want to get enough vitamin D!
Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked
The easiest way to find out if you’re getting enough of this amazing sunshine vitamin is to ask your doctor to run a simple blood test. Depending on your vitamin D blood level, your health care provider might recommend supplements.
Get More Sun
During the summer, you can easily get the necessary 5000-10,000 IU of vitamin D daily from the sun. All you have to do is expose the palm of your hands to the sun’s rays for 15 to 30 minutes.
You don’t need to expose your entire body to the sun. And make sure you don’t get sunburned either. In fact, it’s perfectly fine to cover your face and the rest of your skin – other than your palms. However, don’t use sunscreen or sunblock on your palms because it will disrupt vitamin D synthesis.
Alternatively, you can purchase a vitamin D lamp. The lamp produces high-intensity ultraviolet-B rays that trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin. It is especially helpful for elderly people who spend less time outdoors and tend not to get enough sunshine.
Eat vitamin D-Rich Foods
Unless you enjoy eating fatty fish and fish oils, it may be difficult to get enough natural vitamin D from food. Thankfully, many dairy products and cereals in the market are fortified with vitamin D. Mushrooms and eggs also contain small amounts of this essential vitamin.
If these foods don’t sound appealing or you’re allergic, AND you know you’re getting enough sun, consider taking supplements to keep deficiency at bay. This is especially true for postmenopausal women, people on long-term steroids, the elderly, as well as expectant and breastfeeding mothers.
However, don’t just start taking random supplements. Ask your healthcare provider to check your vitamin D levels and recommend the right supplements.