If you took the advice in our last blog, you’ve likely learned you’re VDD (our term for Vitamin D Deficient). The bad news is that’s bad; the good news is you can easily correct your situation. Nature has made sure of it – first by designing your body to make your own vitamin D, and second by providing some food sources. The third option is supplements.
So let’s explore this question: What are the best sources of vitamin D?
Vitamin D – the Sunshine Vitamin
Take off as many clothes as you’re willing to shed. Bare that back, those legs, and those arms to the direct sun. (Bare hands simply aren’t enough.) Don’t use sunscreen; it prevents vitamin D production.
If you’re fair skinned, perhaps 10-15 minutes in the sun will do it. If you’re slightly olive-skinned, 15-20 minutes should suffice. If you’re dark skinned, you may need up to 10 times longer than fair-skinned people.
In no case, should you stay in the sun long enough to start burning. Turning a little pink is good, but don’t burn. You’ll have to experiment – soak up that sun in stages.
Here’s what will happen: The sun’s Ultra-Violet B rays will initiate a chemical change in the cholesterol in your skin. The process is too complicated to describe in a blog (chemists and biologists marvel at its elegance), but the end of the story is that you, yourself, will produce 10,000-50,000 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D3. That’s at least 100 times more than most national standard guidelines recommend!
Some of the vitamin will be used immediately, and the rest will be stored in your fat and muscle cells.
The next thing that happens is truly amazing: Once you’ve created a storehouse of vitamin D, your skin will actually prevent you from making too much (part of the elegant process chemists and biologists so admire). As a result, your body will NEVER let you overdose on vitamin D derived from the sun. Cool!
That’s why exposing your skin to the sun, without cover or chemical sunscreens, is the best thing you can do to get the vitamin D your body requires.
The sun is your best source – and that’s good news – but here’s some less good news: People living in the northern half of the United States get vitamin D from the sun during the winter months. People over 50 tend to get less vitamin D than younger people. Oily skin produces more; dry skin produces less.
Don’t risk becoming VDD. Get out in the sun, never burn, and trust that your body knows what to do.
Gloria Askew, RRN, has served as department head at numerous emergency wards and as a chief administrator of a major Canadian hospital. Jerre Paquette, Ph.D, is a professor of English and Film Studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta.