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Good day, sunshine vitamin


There is so much news about Vitamin D, all of it exciting, but I don’t find a lot on what it actually is, where I can find it and how much I need. So here it is.

Vitamin D is actually a fat soluble hormone that the body synthesizes naturally. There are many forms, but for humans D2 and D3 are the most important. D2 is synthesized by plants and D3 is synthesized by people when skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun. Vitamin D ultimately helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus.

The connection to calcium is the link to its helpfulness with osteoporosis and bone fractures. Vitamin D obviously helps the immune system, provides protection from hypertension, psoriasis, autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. And if you’ve read the news lately at all you know there is a growing pool of research which shows Vitamin D may help prevent cancer, as many as 18 different types. And dementia.

Vitamin D deficiency is very common, especially in higher latitudes where people don’t naturally get enough sunlight. As more people stay indoors, locked down with their technology, the problem may grow.

According to the National Institute for Health (NIH), the adequate intake for adults is 5 mcg or 200 IU daily. Older people should take twice that and when you pass 70 years even more. Look for supplements that provide D3 rather than D2. It is extremely uncommon to overdose on Vitamin D. Fortified foods like milk and orange juice as well as oily fish are the best ways to add this vitamin to the diet.

For the most part, the easiest way to get Vitamin D is from the sun, which is why it’s called the sunshine vitamin. Yes, sunscreens can block Vitamin D production but not enough to lead to deficiency. To find out exactly how much sun, see this summary of a 2006 study, “Calculated Ultraviolet Exposure Levels for a Healthy Vitamin D Status”. For most of us, it’s as little as ten minutes a day or 30 minutes twice a week with no sunscreen. And the benefits are well worth it.

Source: NIH, Norwegian Institute for Air Research, NYTimes Health, Dr. Weil


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