How Do I Get The Vitamin D I Need
Dont run out to the drug store to buy vitamin D pills just yet. Your body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sun, and it is estimated that most people need 1,000 to 1,500 hours of sun exposure throughout the spring, summer, and fall to obtain the necessary amount of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is very common and on the rise. This is mostly due to vigilant sun protection, since sunscreen with SPF 30 reduces vitamin D production by 95%. Of course, as a dermatologist I am not advocating for prolonged sun exposure, but small amounts can go a long way, as the skin produces vitamin D that can last at least twice as long the vitamin D you take in through foods or supplements. Vitamin D can also be obtained through other sources, including fatty fish , foods fortified with vitamin D , beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Of course, vitamin D supplements are needed for people most at risk for deficiency, including breastfed infants, older adults, people with limited sun exposure, darker skinned individuals, and overweight individuals.
Best Time To Get Vitamin D From The Sun
Is there an optimum time get vitamin D from the sun? In the UK, it always feels like a treat when the sun is out and even more when its out for multiple days. So, we always want to make sure were making the best of it and getting our daily dose of vitamin D.
The best time to get vitamin D from the sun in the UK would be around midday. Thats when the sun is shining the most and your body will be able to produce the most amount of vitamin D. But that doesnt mean that you cant get any vitamin D during the rest of the day. If youre out all day, your body will keep producing vitamin D.
Healthy People Wont Reduce Their Fracture Risk By Taking Calcium And Vitamin D Supplements Sarah Leyland
We know that healthy people living in the community wont reduce their fracture risk by taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, Leyland says. However, people who may not be getting enough such as those who are housebound or live in sheltered accommodation can benefit from these supplements.
Still, researchers havent found clear evidence of that, either. One meta-analysis examining the prevention of fractures in community, nursing home and hospital inpatient populations concluded that vitamin D alone is unlikely to prevent fractures in the doses and formulations tested so far in older people. And some evidence suggests that high doses can actually result in an increased number of fractures and falls. One randomised study found that high-dose monthly vitamin D supplements increased the risk of falls among the elderly population by 20-30% compared to those on a lower dose.
D for disease
There is also conflicting research on the relationship between vitamin D and other diseases, even ageing.
One main claim is that vitamin D supplements will boost the immune system. Adrian Martineau, professor of respiratory infection and immunity at The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, who leads a research group on the effects of vitamin D on health, has found that vitamin D plays a role in improving respiratory infections.
One study found that vitamin D helps decrease the risk of respiratory infections though only slightly
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How Thinking About Vitamin D Has Changed
For the first 20 years I was a doctor, I hardly ever checked anyone’s vitamin D levels. We knew people with very low levels were at higher risk of ‘thinning’ of the bones . So we did used to prescribe calcium and vitamin D supplements for people at high risk of breaking a bone.
Occasionally we’d check someone’s blood levels of vitamin D and discover they were very low – so we’d give them a single injection of very high-dose vitamin D. But that was about it.
In the last decade, there has been a complete revolution among doctors in our attitudes to vitamin D. Once we started measuring it, I certainly discovered at least half my patients were short of vitamin D and one in six patients were severely deficient. So we started recommending supplements routinely for anyone at risk of osteoporosis as well as other conditions .
But on 5th October 2018 a new study on vitamin D and osteoporosis was published which is likely to change our thinking again.
Should You Still Take Vitamin D In The Summer
Theres a reason vitamin D is called the Sunshine Vitamin: Your body produces this hormone-like vitamin whenever your skin is exposed to a significant amount of direct sunlight. Knowing this, its easy to assume that youll naturally get enough vitamin D in the summer. Nutritionists warn that this may not be the case, however. Before you completely abandon your vitamin D supplements, consider this: research indicates that as many as 41% of adult Americans are vitamin D deficient year round.
How can you tell if you need to keep supplementing, or if summer can take care of your vitamin D needs? There are a few things to consider when trying to decide if you should still take vitamin D in the summer. We outline them below.
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Vitamin A The Apple Of The Eye Vitamins
Vitamin A increases your eye power and also, helps you keep your skin in good condition. Since we tend to spend more time outside in the summer, its essential to boost the health of our potentially sun-exposed skin as much as possible. Keep your supplements in your bag and make sure you dont forget to take them.
A Nutritionist Explains Why You Need Vitamin D In Summer
Ahh summer. Hopefully youve got your toes in the water, your butt in the sand and youre basking in those summer rays as you read this. But, does soaking up the summer sun cover your daily dose of vitamin D? Our nutritionist, Dabney Poorter, is weighing in on why you should still take vitamin D in summer.
During summer months, I am often asked if we still need to take a vitamin D supplement. I want to explain why this supplement is important year round, yes even in the summer!
Every cell in your body has a receptor site for vitamin D, which makes it more like a hormone than a vitamin. A deficiency in vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis and impact your mood. Vitamin D supports your immune system and is critical for people with autoimmune disorders.
The best source of vitamin D is the sun. However, the sunlight is strong enough in only 3 to 4 months out of the year to stimulate the skin to produce enough of the vitamin D your body needs. In fact, even in these months your extremities would need to be fully exposed without sunscreen during peak hours of sunlight for 20 to 30 minutes per day. Most people do not receive enough vitamin D from sunlight as the primary source.
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If You Live Far From The Equator
People living in areas farther away from the equator make less vitamin D in their skin.
In these areas, more of the suns rays, especially UVB rays, are absorbed by the earths ozone layer. So people who live farther away from the equator usually need to spend more time in the sun to produce enough .
Whats more, people who live farther from the equator may not produce any vitamin D from the sun for up to six months a year during the winter months.
For example, people who live Boston, USA and Edmonton, Canada struggle to make any vitamin D from sunlight between the months of November and February (
During this time of year, its important that they get their vitamin D from foods and supplements instead.
People who live farther away from the equator need more time in the sun, as more UVB rays are absorbed by the ozone layer in these areas. During winter months, they cannot make vitamin D from sunlight, so they need to get it from foods or supplements.
Vitamin D is made from cholesterol in the skin. That means you need to expose lots of skin to the sunlight to make enough.
Some scientists recommend exposing around a third of the area of your skin to the sun .
According to this recommendation, wearing a tank top and shorts for 1030 minutes three times per week during the summer should be sufficient for most people with lighter skin. People with darker skin may need a bit longer than this.
Below are some consequences of too much sunlight:
Why Is Vitamin D More Important In Winter
In the winter, humans are exposed to more infections and spend less time outside. Exactly how much vitamin D healthy adults should have is debated. Some authorities recommend from 200 IU per day to 2,000 IU per day. In the U.S., the Institutes of Medicine recommends 600-800 IU per day for adults, while the Endocrine Society states that optimal vitamin D status may require 1500-2,000 IU per day. In the winter, people have a reduced ability to make vitamin D when they go outside, so amounts of at least 600 IU per day of vitamin D from food or supplements would help maintain vitamin D status at summer levels.
But, just like many things, too much vitamin D can be harmful. Vitamin D toxicity does not result from too much sun or food. Because of the risk of skin cancer, dermatologists and other health professionals do not recommend unprotected sun exposure to boost your vitamin D. Instead they suggest supplements. But vitamin D toxicity can occur if an individual takes too many.
The experts that set the national intakes of vitamin D for the U.S. recommend that adult individuals take no more than 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D to avoid toxic side effects. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium from your diet, but when vitamin D is too high, calcium levels in the blood go up and that can lead to kidney disease.
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Can You Get Enough Vitamin D In The Sun Only
Some people will be able to get enough vitamin D from the sun. However, it depends on where they live in the world, the time of year, the time of day, and the color of their skin.
People living near the equator get a lot of suns. In the Northern Hemisphere, a person may not be getting enough vitamin D from the sun during the winter.
The sun usually rises between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm In summer, one does not need to stay in the sun too long to make enough vitamin D.
The amount of melanin a persons skin contains affects how much vitamin D they can produce. A small amount of melanin leads to light, unprotected skin, and harmful ultraviolet radiation.
People with a lot of melanin on their skin are better protected from the sun, but it takes longer to make vitamin D. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that many Mexican, American, and non-Spanish blacks are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.
These various factors make it difficult to recommend how much sun a person should get to make the vitamin D his body needs.
Vitamin D Council provides some examples:
- At noon during the summer in Miami, a person with a medium skin tone will need to expose one-quarter of his or her skin to sunlight for six minutes.
- At noon during the summer in Boston, someone with a dark skin tone will have to expose one-quarter of their skin to sunlight for two hours.
Incorporating It Into Your Morning
Many people prefer to take supplements such as vitamin D first thing in the morning.
Not only is it often more convenient, but its also easier to remember your vitamins in the morning than later in the day.
This is especially true if youre taking multiple supplements, as it can be challenging to stagger supplements or medications throughout the day.
For this reason, it may be best to get in the habit of taking your vitamin D supplement with a healthy breakfast.
Using a pillbox, setting an alarm or storing your supplements near your dining table are a few simple strategies to remind you to take your vitamin D.
Some people may find that taking vitamin D first thing in the morning is more convenient and easier to remember than taking it later on.
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Facts About Vitamin D
Vitamin D the sun vitamin also known as cholecalciferol is one of 13 essential vitamins. Essential vitamins are those which are vital for your body to function properly.
There are two forms of vitamin D
- Vitamin D2 is ingested in your diet. Its found in oily fish, for example, mackerel, salmon, and herring. Also, in egg yolks, red meat, liver, some fat spreads, and fortified breakfast cereals. Dietary intake of vitamin D2 is especially important because human beings cannot synthesise this in the body.
- Vitamin D3 is produced in your skin when this is exposed to sunlight UVB radiation.
To remain in good health, your body needs adequate levels of both vitamin D2 and D3.
New Light On The Sunshine Vitamin
It used to be simple: just get a “healthy” tan and your body will make all the vitamin D it needs. Desk jobs and sunscreen have changed all that, just as research is underlining the importance of vitamin D and suggesting its possible role in preventing many health problems. That makes vitamin D a dilemma of modern life that has a modern solution: eating fish and drinking some low-fat fortified milk, along with judicious doses of vitamin D supplements.
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Why Shouldnt Everyone Just Take Vitamin D Supplements
Too much vitamin D can be harmful, including increasing fractures, falls, and kidney stones, and can be toxic by causing excessive levels of calcium. Although not proven, high vitamin D levels have been associated with prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and mortality. A recent study found that use of high-dose vitamin D supplements increased over a 15-year period.
So how much is too much? For adults, toxic effects increase above 4,000 IU per day. The recommended dietary dose of vitamin D is 600 IU each day for adults 70 and younger and 800 IU each day for adults over 70. To put this into perspective, 4 ounces of cooked salmon contains approximately 600 IU of vitamin D.
Should We All Be Taking Vitamin D Supplements In Winter
For many, the winter months mean leaving for work in the dark, coming home in the dark and spending all day in an office lit by fluorescent lights. Without the blue skies of summer, your skin isnt soaking up much sunlight for your body to create vitamin D.
Between the months of January and March, more than a quarter of adults in the UK are vitamin D deficient. To tackle this, Public Health England has suggested that from October to March everyone should consider taking vitamin D supplements. It seems like an easy fix: not enough sunlight? Just take a pill instead.
Earlier this year, research firm Mintel reported that vitamin D overtook vitamin C as the UK’s most used supplement. But for those who aren’t lacking the vitamin, supplements could prove to be completely unnecessary. So is it really worth everyone taking on extra vitamin D?
First, the physiology. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium a key ingredient in keeping bones strong. Severe deficiency can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults where the bones are softened.
Adults, especially in wintertime, often experience aches and pains in their bones and muscles,” says Michael Holick, a professor of medicine at Boston University. “It turns out to be vitamin D deficiency osteomalacia that causes aches and pains, and taking vitamin D can help prevent that from happening.”
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How Much Should You Supplement With
The standard recommendation is 10 micrograms a day. For 97.5% of the population that dose will maintain a concentration of 25nmol/L of vitamin D in the blood. The reality is that for most people, 25 nmol/L isnt enough for optimal wellbeing. Its challenging to know exactly how much you need without having an idea of your current status. Some people require as much as 100 nmol/L. But there are risks to blind supplementation of this vitamin. Vitamin D is a fat soluble, meaning that the body is capable of preserving stores. So it is possible to take too much. If you suspect that you are deficient, I highly recommend visiting your GP or a Registered Nutritional Therapist for a test. Its relatively inexpensive and will give you peace of mind of how much vitamin D you need.
Regardless, as the summer winds to the end, its definitely worth supplementing with vitamin D at least until April next year.
Vitamin D Supplements: What Parents Should Know
Getting enough vitamin D is essential so kids bones can grow strong and their immune systems can ward off illness.
Vitamin D gets into the body through absorption of sunlight and ingestion of food. From April through the end of October, spending just 15 to 30 minutes outside in the middle of the day with hands and face exposed will stimulate the skin to make all the vitamin D your child needs. In fact, on a sunny summer day, a child wearing a bathing suit can generate 10,000 to 20,000 international units of vitamin D after 15 to 30 minutes. In a neat biological trick, a persons body cant overdose on vitamin D created by the sun.
Foods such as salmon, sardines, tuna, cod liver oil, egg yolks and shiitake mushrooms contain a lot of vitamin D. Many kids dont seem to love these vitamin D superfoods, so luckily store-bought milk is often fortified with vitamin D, as are many cereals and even orange juice. Not all dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, however, so make sure to read the labels.
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