The Sunshine Vitamin
Did you know that the summer months are the best time for your body's natural vitamin D production? ☀️
Through exposed skin, UVB rays from the sun are absorbed and converted into vitamin D3. There are certain steps you can take to optimize your body's vitamin D production through sunlight. The optimal time is midday when the sun and rays are at their peak. Allow for 10-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure, then remember to apply sunscreen. Sunscreen's purpose is to ward off UV rays, possibly preventing vitamin D production in the skin. However, studies have shown that the effects are mild. So remember, use sunscreen to protect your skin!
Too much sun?
While the sun is great for vitamin D levels, too much can cause more harm than good. Prolonged sun exposure is linked to:
- Heat stroke
- Skin cancer
- Eye damage
Make sure you're taking advantage of the summer sun responsibly!
Vitamin D Benefits
- Bone health (calcium absorption and regulation)
- Mood boost
- Reduced depression
Where Can It Be Found?
- Sunlight (UVB rays) is the best and most natural source of vitamin D
- During the summer months, most people should be able to get enough vitamin D needed from sunlight.
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel)
- Egg yolks
- Beef liver
- Mushrooms (the only plant source of vitamin D, excluding those that are fortified)
- Like humans, they have the unique ability to produce vitamin D2
- Fortified foods (breakfast cereals, milk, orange juice, etc.)
- Maybe your diet is lacking in the foods listed above, or it's the winter months and daily sunlight is limited. That's where supplements come in!
D2 vs. D3
In the simplest terms, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) comes from plants and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) comes from animals. D3 has also been understood to be more prevalent and longer-lasting.
Recommended daily amounts: (IU = international unit)
- 400 IU: birth to 12 months
- 600 IU: 1-70 years
- 800 IU: 71+ years
About 42% of people in the US are vitamin D deficient. The highest rates are seen in African American (82.1%) and Hispanic (69.2%) populations. Individuals with darker skin have more melanin, which can hinder vitamin D production from sunlight. In these cases, more time in the sun is required. Common signs of vitamin D deficiency include:
- Bone, muscle, joint pain
- Frequent sickness
- Low mood, depression, anxiety
People who live closer to the equator get more vitamin D production year-round, while those who live farther away from the equator or spend most of their time indoors are at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency.