The Sunshine Vitamin
Wellness Week: February 22–28
The long cold days of winter are gradually staying lighter longer, but it will be several months before we will be comfortable outdoors in our short sleeves. Here at the 43rd latitude, we do not receive enough exposure of sunshine between November and March to obtain adequate amounts of Vitamin D. In general, it takes about fifteen minutes of sunlight (without sunscreen) at least three times per week, to ensure the proper amount of Vitamin D for our body’s needs. These times can vary depending on your skin tone. (http://vitamindcouncil.org)
Vitamin D is fat-soluble (your body can store it) and is necessary for many functions within the body. These include:
- Absorption of calcium, especially for growth and development of bones and teeth in children
- Helps regulate the heartbeat
- Boosts immunity
- Necessary for thyroid health and normal blood clotting
- Helps in the prevention and treatment of breast and colon cancer, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and hypocalcemia (low calcium levels in the blood serum)
- Shown to reduce the risk of fractures in those 65+ (Balch, 2010)
- Low Vitamin D levels have also been linked to heart disease, depression, and weight gain (http://www.webmd.com)
Getting your nutrients through food is always the best option, but unfortunately, few foods contain D naturally. Wild-caught salmon and mackerel are good sources, as well as egg yolk, which gives you about 10% of your recommended daily allowance. (http://webmd.com)
When supplementing with Vitamin D, how much is enough? This is a tricky question as there is a lot of conflicting information out there. The National Academies Institute of Medicine, which has done extensive research on Vitamin D, recommends these numbers:
- Ages: 0 months – 12 months, 400 to 1,000 IU daily
- Ages: 1 – 3 years, 600 to 2,500 IU daily
- Ages: 4 – 8 years, 600 to 3,000 IU daily
- Ages: 9 -70 years, 600 IU to 4000 IU daily
- Ages 70 +, 800 to 4,000 IU daily (Dietary Reference Intakes, Institute of Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.nationalacademies.org)
In addition, the D3 form is considered to be the most natural and active, and is the form of Vitamin D that the body makes from sunlight, dubbing it the sunshine vitamin. Whenever starting a new supplement, please check with your physician first. A blood test can determine Vitamin D levels.
– Sherry Beams, Wellness Lead Clerk
Balch, P. (2010) Prescription for Nutritional Healing Fifth Edition. New York, NY: Penguin Group Inc.
*This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.