Avoiding the sun to protect against skin cancer and aging? Great.
Except that half of the US population is low in Vitamin D.
And deficiency in Vitamin D is even worse in Maryland and the north due to less light in the winter.
Is it true, almost everyone could benefit from getting more vitamin D–particularly here in Annapolis?
Although many of us have been taught to steer clear of the sun due to the rise in skin cancer, there is thriving evidence that shows vitamin D is crucial for preventing diseases and necessary for our overall health and wellness.
In fact, more and more studies have shown that Vitamin D plays an important role in preventing everything from cancer and heart disease to Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, immune function and weight gain.
While excessive sun exposure is not recommended and skin protection is important, it is becoming more evident that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D is vital to your health.
Why is vitamin D so important?
One reason is that it helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus – and that’s good for our bones! Therefore, it decreases our chances of fractures, and developing osteoporosis. Studies have even shown that maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D can reduce the risk of 16 different types of cancer! How? By slowing down the production of cancer cells and preventing the formation of new ones.
Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of diabetes, decrease chronic inflammation, lower high blood pressure and lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Having low levels of vitamin D can also affect your mental health.
Many studies have shown a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and mood disorders, including seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and depression. For some of us, winter may be our favorite season, while the rest of us may become a little moodier than usual… This happens because our brain is not releasing as much serotonin (one of the happy hormones) as when we have time to relax in the sunshine. Getting adequate amounts of sun exposure on a daily basis has been shown to automatically elevate one’s mood.
So, when is the best time to get outside?
To avoid getting sun-burnt, it has been recommended that 15-30 minutes between 10:00am and 3:00pm is the ideal time to get sun exposure, about 2 to 4 times a week.
“People using sunscreen as recommended will not get enough vitamin D…[when] you go out, you do need to have short bursts without sunscreen and make sure you don’t get sunburnt. –Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England.
If you go out there in a bathing suit, within minutes you’ll have made 1,000 IU of Vitamin D. Compare that with 8 ounces of fortified milt to get 100IU of Vitamin D. But, it’s important to note that just getting your hands and face exposed won’t do the trick either–you have to have most of your body exposed (think bathing suit).
Vitamin D through better nutrition
Vitamin D is naturally present in a certain foods such as fatty fish, eggs and cheeses. Some beverages are fortified with extra Vitamin D such as milk.
But even with fortified juices and foods, it is not easy to absorb enough Vitamin D.
Optimal Vitamin D levels
Just like there are as many diets as there are people, optimal vitamin D levels vary from person to person as well. Everyone’s body is unique and has different requirements in order to maintain ideal health. Some determining factors that impact the amount of vitamin D your body needs include age, ethnicity, and weight.
However, the best way to determine your personal optimal level of vitamin D is through testing. A non-profit called the Vitamin D Council, recommends enough daily sun exposure or an intake of 5,000 IU a day. The Institute of Medicine only recommends 600-800 IU Vitamin D per day.
Although taking a vitamin D supplement has many benefits, sun exposure is the most healthy and beneficial way to get your optimal vitamin D dosage.
With Fall and Winter fast approaching (and many of us having office jobs), it can be challenging to get our vitamin D through sunlight. Luckily, vitamin D supplements are readily available and a great supplement if you can’t get outside. If you do take a vitamin D supplement, it is important to maintain proper balance between calcium, magnesium and vitamin K2 as well – seeing as these guys work together as a team.
As I said before, the best way to make sure you are taking the optimal dosage for your body of each of these supplements is to get tested and talk with your doctor.
Time for a quick recap!
So, now we know that:
- Vitamin D is crucial in maintaining our health and feeling good!
- It may be one of the simplest ways to help reduce chronic inflammation, bone softening in adults, thyroid conditions, and many other disease.
- It naturally reduces stress by releasing the happy hormone serotonin!
What changes can you make to start getting your daily dose of vitamin D?!
Certified Health & Wellness Consultant
Quintessential Health for Evolve Medical Clinics
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**The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is intended for your general knowledge only and is not to be used for treatment of specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.**
If you are interested in learning more about your Vitamin D level or have any other questions, the folks at Evolve are happy to see you. Evolve Medical is located in Annapolis. You can schedule online or call/text 844-322-4222.
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