Vitamin D plays key roles in maintaining bone density, allowing immune systems to function and even in wound healing. So it’s important to get enough.
Sunlight is one of our main sources of Vitamin D. Just 15 minutes of morning or late afternoon sun exposure to your hands, face and forearms, at least 3 times a week will be enough to maintain a good Vitamin D level in your body. Keep in mind that sunscreen will actually block your body from making Vitamin D. A sunscreen with an SPF of 8 will decrease your production of Vitamin D by 95%. So make sure to have a little sunscreen-free time in the sun before applying it. If you’re over 65, your body’s ability to synthesize Vitamin D can decrease 3-5 times, so you may need a little extra boost. And if you live at a latitude above or below 40, the UV rays in the winter are not strong enough to produce Vitamin D, no matter how long you spend in the sun.
As for food sources, there aren’t too many. You can get Vitamin D from some of the “fatty” fishes like salmon, herring and sardines. It is also in fish liver oils and eggs from hens that have been fed Vitamin D. Other dietary sources are those things that are fortified like some breads and cereals. It is more common now to see the different types of milk being fortified as well.
To give you an idea of how much is can get from different sources, here are a couple of examples:
10 minutes of summer sun can provide up to 10,000 IUs
1 Tablespoon of Cod Liver Oil can provide up to 1300 IUs
3 ounces of salmon can provide 425 IUs
3 ounces of Herring can provide 765 IUs
1 egg yolk can provide 25 IUs
One last thing I’ve noticed clinically is that just getting your Vitamin D from the sun and food is not typically enough to raise a low level. However, once your levels have been established in the healthy range (which I would say is at least 60), then you can use these sources to maintain it.
So, get your Vitamin D levels checked, then get out and enjoy your summer!