I’m sure you’ve all heard it at least once in your life: “Go outside and get some sunshine, you need that Vitamin D!” Your skin can make large amounts of vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun. In fact, 80-90% of your body’s vitamin D is obtained through exposure to sunlight, which is why it’s often called the “Sunshine Vitamin.” But for many reasons – like pollution, lack of sun exposure, covering up more, living in colder climates, failing to supplement, and a lack of vitamin D in your diet, many are deficient in vitamin D and don’t get to the reap the benefits of vitamin D.
The “Sunshine Vitamin” is actually really important for overall health, as well as healthy bones. It is a fat-soluble nutrient, and one of the 24 micronutrients that is critical for human survival. In this guide to vitamin D we’ll go over the benefits, where you can find it, how to know if you’re not getting enough, and what to do if you aren’t.
What are the Benefits of vitamin d?
Treating Weak Bones (Osteoporosis)
Osteoporosis is common in postmenopausal women and elderly men. Did you know that bone loss starts around the age 30 (maybe even 25!)? So vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) enables the absorption of mineral nutrients like calcium and phosphorus, both of which are very important for maintaining healthy bones.
Treating Bone Pain (Osteomalacia)
Osteomalacia is characterized by poor bone density, muscular weakness, and can often cause small fractures. vitamin D helps to absorb calcium in the intestines and helps to recover calcium that is put out by the kidneys.
Vitamin D acts as a macrophage in your bloodstream. Macrophages are a part of your immune system that attack and help to fight off germs and disease for improved immune health.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke and metabolic diseases like diabetes. Getting adequate levels of vitamin D can improve your cognitive function.
Treat Signs of Depression and Anxiety
Vitamin D is also involved in the regulation of hormones that are related to stress. Optimal levels of vitamin D have been shown to help reduce symptoms like seasonal affective disorder, depression, and anxiety.
Who Needs Vitamin D?
1. Those who apply a lot of sunscreen
Skin cancer and the sun have a direct correlation. You know, the more that you are exposed to the sun without protection, the more your chances of getting skin cancer increase. And those with lighter skin, as well as younger children are more likely to get skin cancer.
The Skin Cancer Foundation has a list of tips for skin cancer prevention. Those include:
- Using a UVA/UVB sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher
- Seek the shade, especially when the sun is the strongest between 10am and 4pm
- Avoid tanning or burning
- Covering up with clothing, a hat, and UV sunnies
- Applying sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outdoors
- See your physician every year
So if we are following those tips, the chance that we aren’t getting enough vitamin D is highly likely. To get the benefits of vitamin D without the harmful effects of the sun, supplementing with vitamin D is highly encouraged.
2. Those who wear (UVB) protective clothing
Have you seen this protective clothing? It’s pretty cool if you are 10/10 interested in protecting yourself from those rays. But, like the above, in this case, you probably won’t be getting enough vitamin D, so you should look to supplementing.
3. Those who have limited exposure to sunlight
Those of you who work 8-5 indoor jobs, probably don’t get out much (literally). You are cooped inside and can’t spend your days basking in the sun… but wouldn’t it be nice.
Also depending on where you live, there is a likelihood that you don’t get enough sun. The further away you live from the Equator, the less likely you are to be able to get all of the Vitamin D you need from the sun, especially in winter months. Think Boston and New York. Fah-reezing.
4. Those who are older in age
The older you get, the harder it becomes for your kidneys to convert vitamin D to its active form. This will make you more susceptible to be deficient in vitamin D. As you get older, you will experience the benefits of vitamin D if you implement it into your diet.
5. Those with darker skin
Melanin- you know, the thing that determines the color of your skin, also affects the amount of vitamin D your skin can absorb. Those with darker skin have more melanin, which allows less UVB to enter the skin, and those with lighter skin have less melanin and can absorb more vitamin D.
6. You can’t adequately absorb Vitamin D
Certain diseases, like celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and Crohn’s disease can make it harder to absorb vitamin D from the food you eat. Your body can’t experience the benefits of vitamin d when you’re dealing with these kinds of diseases, which is where supplementation comes into play.
But how much sun exposure do you really need a day?
This will also depend on your skin color. For someone who is lighter skinned, you will really only need to be outside for 10 minutes without sunscreen in midday sun during summer months, wearing shorts and a tank, or a swimmer. That will give you enough radiation to produce about 1000 IU of vitamin D.
It is usually half the time that it would take your skin to tan or get pink. So while that may only be 10 minutes for someone with fair skin, that could be hours for someone with darker skin.
The numbers won’t always be the same, as there are a number of factors that come into play (where you live, time of year, what you are wearing, your age, your skin tone).
If you are one of the ones who avoid sun exposure at all costs, or if you simply live in a place where you don’t get enough, there are things you can do, and supplements that you can take to help you out. You can protect your skin and still get the benefits of vitamin D.
What Happens If I Don’t Get Enough?
Signs of Vitamin D deficiency include:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Bone or muscle pain or weakness
- Frequent bone fractures
- Mild Cognitive Impairment
Where Can I Get Vitamin D?
So, do any of those apply to you? Then chances are you aren’t getting enough vitamin D. Read on to find out how to get more of this super beneficial vitamin.
Vitamin D can be made by the body when the skin is exposed to the sun, and can also be found in only certain foods naturally, and fortified in others.
Fatty Fish (salmon, tuna, eel, trout)
Certain Mushrooms (check to see vitamin D content)
Some Orange Juice
You can also look to supplements to get vitamin D. If you aren’t exposing large amounts of your skin to the sun every day, it can be hard to get your recommended daily value of vitamin D. And many of these foods don’t contain enough vitamin D to help you get there either. And if you are a vegetarian or vegan, forget about it!
Not to mention, many cereals are filled with sugar and other fillers. And orange juice from concentrate? LOADED with sugar. In fact, one cup of orange juice has around 21 grams of sugar. To put things into perspective here, a can of Coke has 25 grams of sugar.
That is where supplements like IdealLean Vitamin D3 can become really beneficial to you. Supplements will help you when the sun and certain foods can’t.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
For adults the recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 600 IU and if you are over 50 years of age you should take 800 to 1000 IU of vitamin D a day with calcium.
Vitamin D supplements are best absorbed when taken after a meal, but you can choose to take it without food as well.
What are the Side Effects?
Your body actually won’t allow a large concentration of D3 to circulate in the bloodstream, so it is considered pretty safe, and is hard to overdose on.
But you shouldn’t take more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day unless you have been told otherwise by your doctor.
It has actually been record-breakingly warm here in Utah this winter… so far. (but, I probably just jinxed that). Update: I did jinx it. We had a pretty great snow storm the other day. But regardless of that fact, I know that I’m not getting enough sun to load me up on my daily dose of Vitamin D. And that is why I love to take IdealLean Vitamin D3. And the best thing about it? It only has one ingredient – Cholecalciferol.
Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is used to treat or prevent conditions of Vitamin D deficiency, especially conditions of the bones or skin. IdealLean Vitamin D3 will also help to regulate the absorption of mineral nutrients like calcium and phosphorus and can help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
Get the benefits that come with Vitamin D and start supplementing with it now.