How much time do you spend outside during the week? If you’re lucky, an hour or two when it’s nice out…on the weekend?
Maybe even less when the weather is more extreme.
Most of us spend the majority of our time inside. When we go do go out, we’re either bundled up to stay warm or slathered with sunscreen to protect ourselves from damaging rays.
It is important to protect ourselves from the sun but it is also extremely important to expose ourselves to the sun too. We need to be exposed for about 20-30 minutes every day to insure we have enough Vitamin D.
Vitamin D’s Numerous Benefits To You
• Key to bone health and strength (particularly important in the elderly)
• Muscle strength
• Reduction of high blood pressure
• Helps prevent multiple sclerosis
• Prevents rickets
• May help prevent cancer of the colon, ovaries, lung, kidney, breast and prostate, in fact, maybe all cancers
• May help prevent rheumatoid arthritis
• Helps regulate blood sugar
• Reduces tooth loss in the elderly
• Enhances mood, particularly with seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
• Assists in brain function and development
How Do You Get Enough?
Getting outside and exposing your skin for 20-30 minutes a day during the middle of the day will give you an adequate amount of Vitamin D. If you expose yourself during the summer your body can store up Vitamin D for the winter months. Be aware that the darker your skin, the more exposure you may need to get to optimal levels. You can also consume it through certain foods. Good sources include oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, egg yolks, or fortified foods like milk and orange juice. Or you can take a vitamin supplement; D3 is preferable to D2.
The Recommended Daily Amount Varies by Age
0-12 months 400 IU (International Units)
12 months to 70 years 600 IU
70 years + 800 IU
While these amounts are recommended by the Institute of Medicine, it has been my experience that many people are so deficient that larger doses are necessary to get into the normal range and stay there.
20-30 minutes outside is the equivalent of 10,000 IU’s.
What should I do?
I recommend that you check with your doctor and get your levels checked. It’s a simple blood test called 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25-(OH) D. Then, based on your results, take a supplement, expose yourself to the correct ultraviolet light or spend time outside daily for several months. After a couple of months, have your levels re-checked. If you are within normal range, (50-85 ng/ml), you may be able to cut back your amount of supplementation.
Many people take 1000-2000 IU’s daily to maintain health.
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Lipski, L., PhD. (2006). Digestive Wellness for Children. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.
Zhang, R. N., D. (2010). Vitamin D in health and disease: Current perspectives. Nutrition Journal, 9(65).