We live in the “Bold North”. The winters are long and sometimes we don’t see the sun for days. Many of us suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which basically means that the winter and lack of sunshine literally depresses many of us.
Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to fly away for a vacation and the term “snowbird” is something we all understand, but what about those of us that are stuck in the frozen tundra until it thaws and gives way to longer days filled with sunshine?
What does Vitamin D do?
Vitamin is important for absorbing calcium and maintaining healthy bones and teeth Vitamin D supports a healthy immune system, brain and nervous systems as well as lung function and cardiovascular health.
It’s also reported to reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and depression and aids those managing fibromyalgia.
Do I really need Vitamin D?
The fact of the matter is that there are only TWO ways to get vitamin D:
You can, indeed, get vitamin in certain foods, but it’s pretty much impossible to consume the amount of vegetables required to gain your daily allowance of vitamin D.
What about sunscreen?
In order to gain the benefit of Vitamin D absorption, you should avoid using sunscreen. But don’t worry, D3 (cholecalciferol) is produced quickly and you can easily gain your daily D3 being in the sun for about half the time it would normally take your skin to burn. Sunshine is, without a doubt, the best way to get your Vitamin D. In the short time you spend in the sun’s rays, you can expect to gain about 10,000- 25,000 IU of Vitamin D!
Other factors to consider:
There are many factors that go into how your body absorbs Vitamin D. For example:
The darker your skin tone, the longer it takes your body to produce vitamin D. Additionally, your location matters- the closer to the equator you are and the amount of skin you expose, the faster your body is able to produce Vitamin D.
Can you overdose on Vitamin D supplements?
Yes! The recommended allowance of vitamin D is about 600 IU a day. Taking too much vitamin D can cause a rare, but potentially serious condition called hypervitaminosis D, which is a build up of calcium in your blood. Another reason that getting the real thing is the favored option, when available.
As with everything else, enjoy in moderation. If you know you will be in the sun all day, sunscreen is still recommended, but be sure to let the sun kiss you before applying!
1. American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). “Oral vitamin D supplements reduced levels of Ki67 in prostate cancer cells.” ScienceDaily, 31 Mar. 2012.
2. Cannell JJ, Vieth R, Willett W, Zasloff M, Hathcock J, White JH, Tanumihardjo SA, Larson-Meyer E, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Lamberg-Allardt CJ, Lappe JM, Norman AW, Zittermann A, Whiting SJ, Grant WB, Hollis BW and Giovannucci E. Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin A Toxicity, Frequent Respiratory, Infections, and the Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic. Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology Volume 117, No. 11. 2008.
3. Chen TC, Lu Z, and Holick MF. Photobiology of Vitamin D. In Vitamin D: Physiology, Molecular Biology and Clinical Applications by Holick MF. Humana Press, 2010.
4. Cusano NE, Thys-Jacobs S and Bilezikian JP. “Hypercalcemia Due to Vitamin D Toxicity.” In Vitamin D, Third Edition, by Feldman D, Pike JW and Adams JS. Elsevier Academic Press, 2011.
5. Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Gordon CM, Hanley DA, Heaney RP, Murad MH, Weaver CM; Endocrine Society. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jul;96(7):1911-30.
6. Holick MF. Photobiology of Vitamin D. In Vitamin D, Third Edition, by Feldman D, Pike JW and Adams JS. Elsevier Academic Press, 2011.
7. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.
8. Plum LA and Deluca HF. The Functional Metabolism and Molecular Biology of Vitamin D Action. In Vitamin D: Physiology, Molecular Biology and Clinical Applications by Holick MF. Humana Press, 2010.
9. Reichrath J and Reichrath S. Hope and challenge: the importance of ultraviolet radiation for cutaneous vitamin D synthesis and skin cancer. Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation, 2012.
10. Smolders J, Hupperts R, Barkhof F, Grimaldi LM, Holmoy T, Killestein J, Rieckmann P, Schluep M, Vieth R, Hostalek U, Ghazi-Visser L, Beelke M. Efficacy of vitamin D(3) as add-on therapy in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis receiving subcutaneous interferon beta-1a: a Phase II, multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Neurol Sci. 2011 Dec 15;311(1-2):44-9. Epub 2011 May 28.
11. Tang, JY and Epstein Jr, EH. Vitamin D and Skin Cancer. In Vitamin D, Third Edition by Feldman D, Pike JW, and Adams JS. Elsevier Academic Press, 2011.
12. Terushkin V., Bender A., Psaty E.L., Engelsen O., Wang S.Q., Halpern A.C. Estimated equivalency of vitamin D production from natural sun exposure versus oral vitamin D supplementation across seasons at two US latitudes. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 June; 62 (6): 929.e1-9.