Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Importance of Sunshine and Vitamin D

By Tereza Hubkova, M.D.

Much has been written (and rightfully so) about the importance of vitamin D. 

Unlike other vitamins, which we get primarily from our diet, we are able to make vitamin D inside ourselves. We make it in our skin, from sunshine. Having said that, most of us don’t spend nearly enough time in the sun, and if we do, we probably use sunscreen to protect ourselves from skin cancer. Nine out of ten new patients I see have low vitamin D levels. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to osteoporosis, osteopenia, several different cancers including breast, prostate and colon cancer, leukemia, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, heart disease, insulin resistance, and even depression.

You are more likely to be tired and achy if your vitamin D level is low, and on the contrary, you are 40% less likely to catch the flu if your vitamin D level is in a healthy range. But more often than not, a person’s level is not within the healthy range. Have you had your vitamin D level checked this year?

Chances are that you will need to take supplemental vitamin D3, most people need between 1000 and 2000 units a day, but occasionally much more.

I think it is best to get as much vitamin D from nature as possible. Therefore we would like to suggest that you picnic more. It is usually safe to wait 20 minutes before applying sunscreen, and nothing tastes as great as good food in the fresh air.

Some foods contain some vitamin D too – mostly fish, vitamin D fortified milk, and orange juice as well as mushrooms grown under ultraviolet light (most commercially grown mushrooms). But that is usually not enough. So go get some sunshine and vitamin D supplement.

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