Sunshine on My Shoulders
For those of you that know me well, you know I LOVE THE SUN. In addition to the antidepressant effects of sun exposure, I’ve recently learned that sun exposure is also our primary mechanism for making vitamin D in the body.
So, what’s important about Vitamin D? Vitamin D has long been known to be important for bone growth and development in children and for normal bone health in adults. However, recent evidence is showing that Vitamin D supplementation may be helpful in the prevention of a number of diseases. If you are interested to know more, read The Scoop below. If not, read the parts in bold.
The Scoop: Nearly a half century ago it was discovered that people living in the northeast U.S. had twice the risk of dying of cancer than Southerners! More recently, strong evidence has emerged for sun exposure to reduce the risk of prostate, breast, colon, ovarian, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, rectal, kidney, uterine, lung and bladder cancer. There is also a great deal of evidence that higher D3 levels also combats several types of autoimmune diseases (Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Type I Diabetes). Moreover, vitamin D seems to regulate immune cell function. Finally, Type II (classic adult onset diabetes) has also been linked to low levels of Vitamin D in the blood. In short, there is significant evidence that higher levels of vitamin D in the blood protects against most cancers, several autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis and Type II Diabetes.
The only sure way to know if your Vitamin D level is optimal, is with a blood test called 25-OH Vitamin D level. The normal range is 20-100 mg/ml (50ng/ml is recommended). Short of this, I have heard a naturopath friend say that nearly everyone in the northwest who she has tested is deficient in vitamin D. We just don’t’ get a lot of sun exposure.
While our primary and best source of vitamin D is sun exposure, supplementation might be an important addition in the winter months. This is especially true for all of us living in the Northwest – it’s kinda dark around here. And I have to say the obvious, anyone with a history of melanoma, please do not use sun exposure as a means of raising your vitamin D level. For everyone, it’s best to use your trunk and legs to make vitamin D (rather than face, hands or other body parts that have often sun exposure).
In short, a little vitamin D supplementation won’t hurt. Especially
because its so hard to OD on the stuff with oral supplementation while
living in a cloudy climate. We make 20,000 IUs just from 20 minutes of
summer sun exposure, while high dose supplementation would be
considered 10,000 IUs. My blood levels were tested and I am low in vitamin D. I’ve been taking 5,000 IUs a day of Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D. I also really like the idea of using plain old cod liver oil to get vitamin D. With this, you also get the benefit of essential fatty acids in a digestible form.