What to Know About Vitamin D, aka “The Sunshine Vitamin”
Another vitamin to worry about?! We know it’s hard to keep track of all the vitamins you need, but making sure you’re absorbing enough Vitamin D is fairly easy. It’s often called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies are capable of producing its own Vitamin D after absorbing sunlight through the skin.
Vitamin D primarily helps our bodies maintain strong bones and teeth, as it helps us absorb the calcium we eat and it controls the amount of calcium in our blood. Low calcium intake contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss, and an increased risk of fractures. Yikes!
The vitamin also supports the health of our immune, brain, and nervous systems. Children need Vitamin D to build strong bones. Adults need it to keep their bones strong and healthy. Vitamin D is fairly easy to attain–all you have to do is step outside.
So How Much Sun Do We Need?
During the summer months, twenty to thirty minutes of direct exposure to sunlight 2-3 times a week should be enough for a fair-skinned person to make the Vitamin D they need. Those who are older and darker skinned should spend even more time in the sun.
Although sunscreen is very important when spending extended amounts of time in the sun, 20-30 minutes of direct sunlight is okay. Only spend a small amount of time in the sun without sunscreen either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Make sure to cover up for the rest of the time avoid any chance of sunburn. It’s all about finding the right balance between sun exposure and sun protection!
Vitamin D Deficiency is More Common Than You Might Expect
How do you know if you’re lacking Vitamin D? It’s often hard to tell. Symptoms can include fatigue and general aches and pains in the body and bones. The best thing to do if you think you may have Vitamin D deficiency is to see your doctor and have blood work done.
People who live in places where there is typically not much sun exposure like Canada and northern U.S. are especially at risk of Vitamin D deficiency. Believe it or not, Vitamin D deficiency also occurs in sunny climates. Perhaps because people are covering up when outside (or spending too much time indoors staring at their TV screens and iPhones).
Other sources of Vitamin D
Adding Vitamin D rich and fortified foods to your diet can also help increase levels. Below are some suggestions for those who are not exposed to a lot of sun because of age, ethnicity, and health conditions. Or maybe you just can’t stand being out in the sun!
- Vitamins D capsules and supplements
- Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, swordfish, and sardines
- Mushrooms (specifically portobello), Eggs (with the yolk), and citrus juices like OJ