As we all know, winter time has some of our most gloomy and darkest days of the year, especially for Minnesota and surrounding northern states. Recent studies from the National Institutes of Health, show that over 80% of us are deficient in vitamin D during these dark and cold months due to the lack of sun light. The sun is the best source of vitamin D. It stimulates the production of vitamin D in the skin. Sunlight deficiencies have been linked to higher rates of certain cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and several mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Major Risk Factors
Do you avoid sunshine? You need sunshine exposure daily between 11am and 3pm for 15-20 minutes.
Do you wear strong sun-block?
Do you avoid dairy products?
Do you have a low fat diet?
Are you pregnant or nursing?
Do you use corticosteroids? (oral, inhalers, or creams)
Do you have very dark skin? If so, you may need 6 times as much sun exposure during the summer and extra vitamin D during the winter.
Do you live in a cloudy, foggy, or polluted climate?
How Does Vitamin D Work?
We can get our vitamin D from both sun exposure and through specific foods. Certain wavelengths from natural sunlight penetrate our skin allowing our skin to turn cholesterol from our food into vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be found in certain foods such as dairy products, fish oils and salmon. When vitamin D is metabolized, it is then actually a hormone which works in the skin, kidneys, heart, muscles, and in 30 different cell types. There are three main functions of vitamin D. First, it helps us absorb, transport, and metabolize essential minerals like zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium, which play a major role in the health of our bones and enzymes. Secondly, it allows for proper cell development and lastly, it helps regulate the immune system, which ultimately helps prevent cancers.
So How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?
Older than 50 – about 2000 units/day
Teens and adults – about 1000 units/day
Children – about 800 units/day
I hope you found this information helpful and gained some knowledge from it. I also invite you to let your friends and family know about this by sharing it on Facebook.
Dr. Lance Neubauer