Have Your Day in the Sun…It’s Good for You!
The latest estimates suggest that nearly half the world’s population suffers from vitamin D deficiency. This is bad news since vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a host of serious conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis and depression, as well as brittle bones and the common cold. Currently, vitamin D is being investigated to determine the role it plays in insulin resistance, high blood pressure and immune function.
Recent neurological research discovered that when compared with subjects with normal levels of vitamin D, individuals with low vitamin D levels had a 53 percent increased risk of developing dementia, while those with a severe deficiency had a 125 percent increased risk. Adults with lower levels of vitamin D were almost 70 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, while those with a severe deficiency were more than 120 percent more likely to do so.
Very few foods are rich in vitamin D and the use of sunscreen has limited our ability to produce it naturally. Use of sunscreen can reduce your body’s ability to produce vitamin D by as much as 99%. To meet the recommended allowance of vitamin D – 600 International Units (IU) for adults to age 70 and 800 IU for older adults – choose foods like milk and yogurt that are fortified with vitamin D. Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, tuna and halibut and some fish liver oils contain vitamin D. Egg yolks, cheese and beef liver also contain moderate amounts of vitamin D. A recent study at the Boston University School of Medicine suggests that eating some mushrooms can be an effective source of vitamin D.
Another way to meet the recommendation is to get regular sun exposure. You don’t need much sun to get adequate vitamin D. Adults under age 70 with fair skin only need about 10 minutes of sun per week to produce adequate vitamin D. Keep in mind that you should be in the sun with NO sunscreen on during the sun’s most intense time of day between 10 am and 2 pm. Ideally your arms and chest should be exposed to the sun for best absorption. If you have dark skin or are over 70, you’ll need a bit more exposure, up to 20 minutes.
If you need to take a supplement, make sure it is vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol. It is the natural form of vitamin D produced by your body. Research is being conducted to determine the value of vitamin D2, but at present, experts recommend D3 for supplementation.
No matter how you do it, vitamin D is an important vitamin for long term health and well-being. Have your day in the sun!