Friday, May 15, 2009

Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin

Sunshine is not only important for vegetation, it's important to humans too! The vitamin D that your body needs to reduce the risk of some cancers and fight off diabetes, comes from exposure to sunshine, specifically UVB Rays. Typically a fair skinned person located in the middle to southern part of the US needs only about 10-15 minutes of direct sunshine three times a week to achieve optimal levels of vitamin D. Darker toned skin may require a bit more. Direct sunlight means, arms legs and face without sunscreen on a normal partly cloudy to sunshiny day. Cloud cover or smog reduce the UVB Rays by about 50%, but as we all know you can still get a sunburn on a cloudy day! Burning your skin is never recommended, so each person should manage their sun exposure to avoid excess exposure. Sunscreens above 8 can block UVB rays, but if your exposure to the sun will be lengthy please remember to apply sunscreen as needed.

Low levels of vitamin D are linked to low calcium levels, osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, depression, Autism and other conditions. Achieving optimal levels of Vitamin D from our food is difficult to do, because fortified foods typically use D-2, but D-3 is the vitamin that your body needs. The best food source for Vitamin D-3 is Wild Salmon, but no source is better than sunshine. Testosterone and Estrogen also play a factor in the production of vitamin D.

How do you know you are getting enough vitamin D?
Spending 10-15 minutes in full sunlight 3 times a week should be enough, but you can also have a blood test to determine what your vitamin D levels are. Supplements which would need to be taken in very high doses to meet the daily needs of a person, are normally not needed, but in some cases are required. Our office offers an emulsified (fat soluble) vitamin D supplement in a dropper bottle. We recommend this when full body sun exposure is not possible and when the vitamin D level is not adequate. Please call us if you need more information on how to be tested for vitamin D levels!

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