Most of us today have become so comfortable with our 9 to 5 jobs that we rarely venture out into the sun. Our favorite beach pastime of soaking in the sun seems to be restricted to the beach. While we know that the easiest source of vitamin D is the sun, we often ignore its importance. And we ignore it so much that it has given way to a vitamin D deficiency pandemic across the world, with an alarming 41.6 % Americans being prone to vitamin D deficiency.
Why Do We Need Vitamin D?
Before understanding the benefits of vitamin D, let’s have a look at what vitamin D actually is. It is a group of steroids or, to be more specific, a group of soluble pro-hormones that help the body absorb calcium and phosphorous. There are 5 types of the sunshine vitamin – vitamin D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 – and here’s what they do for our body.1 2
- Strengthens bones
- Boosts immunity
- Helps in weight management
- Expands cognitive capacity
- Lowers the risk of cancer
How Much Vitamin D Do We Need?
On an average, both children and adults require 15 mg (or 600 UI) vitamin D per day. In adults over the age of 70, the requirement increases to 20 mg (or 800 UI) vitamin D per day. Older individuals and people with darker skin are often at a higher risk of developing vitamin D deficiency, and it is essential that they intake vitamin D from all its sources.3 4
How To Get Enough Vitamin D
1. A 10-Minute Stroll In The Sun Every Noon
While it’s important that you aren’t overexposed to the sun, low exposure to the sun can actually be harmful to the body. Surprisingly, according to studies, the optimum time to soak the sun is the afternoon. This is because the sun’s UVB rays are capable of producing maximum vitamin D at noon. However, ensure that you don’t bask in the sun for too long. Just a 10- to 15-minute exposure to the sun should do the trick.5 6
2. Use The Right Sunscreen
Using sunscreens that contain excessive SPF might not only bad for your skin but also prevent your skin from making vitamin D. While it’s believed that bare skin, when exposed to the sun, makes the maximum amount of vitamin D, it is unwise to stroll in the sun without applying sunscreen. In fact, an Australian study states that wearing sunscreen had no effect on the vitamin D produced by the skin. So, as long as you use a moderate amount of the right sunscreen and stay protected from the harsh sun, you’re good to go.7
3. Eat Salmon And Drink Milk
If the sun outside is too harsh, or if your schedule does not allow you to get enough exposure to sunlight, you can make up for it by eating foods rich in vitamin D. Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel are good sources of vitamin D. In some regions, mushrooms are pre-exposed to UVB rays of the sun, which makes them rich in vitamin D. In the US, every quart of milk is usually fortified with 400 IU of vitamin D. However, this doesn’t apply to milk products, such as cheese and ice cream.8
4. Keep Your Weight In Check
Although it is unclear whether weight plays a major role in vitamin D production, there’s no harm in exercising regularly. Some studies have suggested a correlation between obesity and low vitamin D levels. It is also believed that excessive body fat can bind to the vitamin D, preventing it from getting into the blood.9 10
Vitamin D is essential for a strong and healthy body. If you’re not getting enough vitamin D from the sun, make dietary changes and consider opting for vitamin D supplements.
|↑1||Cornfeld, Peter. Vitamin D Diet: Benefits of Vitamin D for Optimal Health. Lulu Press, 2014.|
|↑2||Forrest, Kimberly YZ, and Wendy L. Stuhldreher. “Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults.” Nutrition research 31, no. 1 (2011): 48-54.|
|↑3||Bobroff, Linda B., Isabel Valentín-Oquendo. Facts About Vitamin D. IFAS Extension, University of Florida.|
|↑4||Vitamin D. National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑5||Moan, Johan, Arne Dahlback, and Alina Carmen Porojnicu. “At what time should one go out in the sun?.” In Sunlight, Vitamin D and Skin Cancer, pp. 86-88. Springer New York, 2008.|
|↑6||How do I get the vitamin D my body needs? Vitamin D Council.|
|↑7, ↑9||6 things you should know about vitamin D. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑8||What is vitamin D and what does it do? National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑10||What is vitamin D and what does it do? National Institutes Of Health.|