Did you know that vitamin D is also called ‘the sunshine vitamin’?
When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. It’s also found in certain foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products. However, it’s challenging to get enough from diet alone.
Vitamin D has many roles in the body and is essential for optimal health. Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D functions similarly to a hormone, and every single cell in your body has a receptor for it. Vitamin D deficiency is very common.
It’s estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of the vitamin in their blood.
Here are 8 signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common, and most people are unaware of it. That’s because the symptoms are often subtle and non-specific, meaning that it’s hard to know if they’re caused by low vitamin D levels or something else. If you think you may have a deficiency, it’s important that you speak to your doctor and get your blood levels checked.
Fortunately, a vitamin D deficiency is usually easy to fix. You can either increase your sun exposure, eat more vitamin-D-rich foods, such as fatty fish or fortified dairy products, or you can also take a vitamin D supplement. Fixing your deficiency is simple, easy and can have big benefits for your health!
Only a handful of foods contain significant amounts of vitamin D. You would need to eat them nearly every day to get enough vitamin D. Here are 7 healthy foods that are high in vitamin D:
I take Vitamin D sublingually (under the tongue) as it is the best way to absorb it into the body. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for children and adults, and 800 IU for elderly (over 70) and pregnant or lactating women. But, as a qualified Naturopath, I recommend you take at least 1000iu per day to notice a difference. If you plan to take a supplement, D3, not D2, is the form you want. If you are taking magnesium too, it will help your body use vitamin D.
Regular sun exposure is the most natural way to get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is made from cholesterol in the skin. That means you need to expose lots of skin to the sunlight to make enough. Midday, especially during summer, is the best time to get sunlight. At noon, the sun is at its highest point, and its UVB rays are most intense. That means you need less time in the sun to make sufficient vitamin D.
For example, in the UK, 13 minutes of midday sunlight exposure during summer three times per week is enough to maintain healthy levels among adults. [source]
Some scientific research recommends exposing around a third of the area of your skin to the sun. According to this recommendation, wearing something like a t-shirt and shorts for 10–30 minutes three times per week during the summer should be sufficient for most people. [source]
Just make sure to prevent burning if you’re staying in the sun for a long time. Instead, try going without sunscreen for just the first 10–30 minutes, depending on how sensitive your skin is to sunlight, and apply sunscreen before you start burning.
It’s also a good idea to wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes while exposing other parts of your body. Since the head is a small part of the body, it will only produce a small amount of vitamin D.
People use sunscreen to protect their skin against sunburns and skin cancer. That’s because sunscreen contains chemicals that either reflect, absorbs or scatters sunlight. When this happens, the skin is exposed to lower levels of harmful UV rays. However, because UVB rays are essential for making vitamin D, sunscreen could prevent the skin from producing it. Some studies estimate that sunscreen of SPF 30 or more reduces vitamin D production in the body by about 95–98%. [source]
While sunlight is great for vitamin D production, too much can be dangerous. Below are some consequences of too much sunlight:
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