You’ve probably heard vitamin D is important to your health and you may even know that you somehow get it from the sun. But why is it so essential and how exactly does the body take it in? Today we’re taking a look at what we know about vitamin D and highlighting the advantages of incorporating this super supplement into your health routine.
What does vitamin D do for you?
Studies on this topic are ongoing and constantly evolving—it can be tough to keep up! What we do know is vitamin D is absolutely essential for bone health because it allows the body to absorb calcium. It also supports healthy immune system function and assists the internal communication from the brain to every part of the body. As chiropractors, we’re big fans of improving that important brain-body connection.
How do you get vitamin D?
The most effective way your body gets vitamin D is from the sun—and the process is pretty incredible. Your body actually produces it as a hormone when you absorb UVB rays through your bare skin; unfortunately, you can’t produce vitamin D when wearing sunscreen or lotions with SPF or through a window. In recent years, several doctors have come forward advocating for exposing bare skin to the sun in short, but daily doses. An interesting indicator that the sun may be the naturally intended source for vitamin D is that breast milk contains extremely low or no levels of this vitamin.
Short periods of sun exposure, typically 15 to 20 minutes, amp up the body’s production and studies show the best time of day to catch some beneficial rays is between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The amount of time each person can safely be in the sun varies based on skin type, skin color, location and environmental factors, so be sure to talk to your primary care physician to figure out what’s safe for you.
Good news! Although limited, there are also food sources for vitamin D, such as fatty fish, shiitake mushrooms, beef, egg yolks and Swiss cheese. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring pack the greatest amount of vitamin D, delivering anywhere from 30 percent to 75 percent of your daily intake value in a 3-ounce serving. Avoid milk or other food products that boast “fortified with vitamin D!” Always go straight to the source: the sun, whole foods or trusted supplements.
How much vitamin D should I get?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended amount of vitamin D for adults between the ages of 19 and 70 years young is 600 IU. This translates to about 6 ounces of fish (depending on the type of fish) or roughly 15 minutes of sunlight (depending on your body). Chiro One doctors typically recommend more, about 2000 to 3000 IU, as the optimal amount.
Please discuss supplements with your primary physician before adding them to your diet.