Everyone knows if you sit in the sun too long you can get sunburn. However, what you may not realize is that when your skin is in direct contact with sunlight, your body is doing one of the most important things it does to maintain health. Your body is making Vitamin D. Why is this important?
We have known for a long time that we need Calcium in order keep our bones healthy. But the fact is if we are low on Vitamin D our bodies have trouble absorbing Calcium. This concept is particularly important for women’s health in order to prevent osteoporosis, because without enough Calcium and Vitamin D together the bones loose their density, and can break more easily.
New medical research shows that Vitamin D is not only important for bone health, but it also plays a role in maintaining blood pressure, heart health, and cancer prevention. Additionally, research has implicated that if you have too little Vitamin D, you are at risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, obesity, depression, headaches, and some types of cancer. Lack of Vitamin D can even mimic muscle and joint pain that you would normally go to your average chiropractor for.
It is estimated that approximately 70% of the people in the United States do not have sufficient Vitamin D levels. The deficiency level can rise near 100% for the elderly and those individuals with darker skin tone.
So now you want to get some sun, but there’s a blizzard outside? This is a major problem for all of us who live in the Midwest. For a period of three to four months we may get adequate sunlight to make enough Vitamin D, but then the seasons change and the rain and snow start falling. The answer to this quandary is adding enough Vitamin D into the diet to maintain health.
But you already have Vitamin D in your multivitamin, isn’t that enough? Think again. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, your body will make as much as 20,000 international units of Vitamin D per day. Yet the U.S. recommended daily intake is only 400 units. The majority of those educated in nutrition think that the standard is set way too low. Experts now believe that the estimated daily requirement is between 2,000-5,000 units per day in order to stay healthy. I use a high quality form of vitamin D that is near tasteless, can mixed into food or water, and only 1 drop supplies 2,000 units, enough for the entire day.
Your levels of Calcium and Vitamin D can be checked by a nutritionally knowledgeable physician and if more Vitamin D is needed, be sure that you are getting it from a reliable source. Like all supplements, your Vitamin D should be tested for both purity and your body’s ability to absorb it.
The Clinical Importance of Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol): A Paradigm Shift with Implications for All Healthcare Providers. Alternatiive Therapies in Health and Medicine. Sept/Oct. 2004.
The High Prevalence of Inadequate Serum Vitamin D Levels and Implications for Bone Health. Curr Med Res Opin. 2005;21(4):579-585.
Vitamin D and the elderly. Clin Endocrinol. 2005;62(3):265-281.
Vitamin D Therapy in Clinical Practice: One Dose Does Not Fit All. Int J Clin Pract. 2007;61(11):1894-1899.
Vitamin D: Important for Prevention of Osteoporosis, Cardiovascular Heart Disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Autoimmune Diseases, and Some Cancers. South Med J. 2005;98(10):1024-1027.