Vitamin D impacts mood, immune system, absorption of other nutrients, and a wide-range of body processes. Not having enough can look as simple as a touch of the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder, getting sick more often, or be more complicated like a gradual deterioration in bone health.
Exposure to sunlight triggers Vitamin D production in the body, and many foods come fortified with Vitamin D. So why aren’t people getting enough? Food-wise, fortification is a low-quality way to add nutrients to the diet, and for people with stomach issues (a growing problem) it’s not going to be very effective. (For dietary consumption of Vitamin D, choose a high-quality supplement like Vita One).
But the new study blames sunscreen for global Vitamin D deficiency, since it’s blocking the trigger for Vitamin D production as well as harsh UV rays. But should you really give up sunscreen?
No. The amount of sun you need is very small, and depends greatly on a number of factors. Lighter color skin (with less melanin) makes Vitamin D more quickly than darker skin. How much time you need outside is a factor of how close to the equator you live, and how high up in elevation you are (between 5 and 30 minutes). That means that African-Americans have high rates of Vitamin D deficiency, and Vitamin D deficiency becomes more common the farther North you go.
Don’t throw out your sunscreen. If you’re not getting enough Vitamin D through incidental exposure, high-quality food sources are a better substitute than increasing your risk for skin cancer through regular sunscreen free exposure. Fish, beef, cheese, and eggs all have a decent amount of Vitamin D. For a vegetarian source (or a more regular source if those aren’t in your daily diet) try a high quality daily multivitamin like Vita One. Making sure you get Vitamin D in your diet each day can help with Vitamin D deficiency, and in turn, allow Vitamin D to help be performing all of its important roles.
How much Vitamin D? The study actually used a quantity greater than the food labels in your home recommend, because the truth is that’s a minimum. To feel and work your best, you can do with a little bit more of most of what’s recommended. If you make sure to get a daily multivitamin, then you’ve already got a good start.
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