"If I spend 20 minutes a day out in the sun, I’ll be getting enough vitamin D."
We know vitamin D is good for us and the best way to get it is through the sun’s direct contact with our skin. But how do you know if you’re getting enough?
According to Statscan and the National Center for Health Statistics, 1 in 3 North Americans aren't getting enough and are actually deficient.
How Much Sun Do You Really Need?
The 20-minute guideline is correct. But only for certain skin tones. Someone with pale skin needs 20 minutes a day. This amount of time will maintain their current vitamin D levels. You would need more time in the sun if you’re deficient.
So what about the rest of us who don’t have pale skin? (hand raised)
Because of higher levels of melanin in the skin, those with darker skin tones need up to 5 times longer in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D. That’s an hour and 40 minutes. Every day. To maintain current vitamin D levels.
If you’re like me and you have to experience cold snowy winters, you’re not outside letting the sun hit your skin for 20 minutes let alone an hour and 40 every day. So paying attention to your vitamin D levels matters.
Can You Get Too Much Sun?
You can, as you don’t want to get heat stroke or burn your skin. But from a nutritional perspective, your body will not over produce vitamin D from the sun to the point of you having levels that are too high.
If you’re supplementing with vitamin D through pills or drops, it can be possible to take too much. That’s why it’s important to know what your levels are by having your blood tested. Then adjust your supplemental dosage under the direction of a doctor or a health professional like myself.
How Can You Improve Its Absorbability?
Vitamin D is fat soluble, so taking it with food is a good habit to get into. Using the sun as your source, it works with the cholesterol in your skin to complete the process that produces vitamin D in a form that your body recognizes and can use. Yes, cholesterol.
This is a whole other topic that I will blog about later, but cholesterol in and of itself is not bad. It’s the lifestyle habits, food choices, ways of coping with and reducing stress as well as how active someone is that causes hardening and narrowing of arteries. But I digress.
Why Is Vitamin D So Important?
It's one of a few vitamins that impacts the functionality and expression of every single cell in our body. It influences the health of our cardiovascular system, digestive system, immune function, brain, muscles, cell cycles, inflammation and our bones.
Vitamin D acts as a carrier for getting calcium into your bones. Without it, calcium from your diet is absorbed at a rate of about 5-10%.
Can You Get It From Your Diet?
There are very few foods that naturally contain vitamin D (sun-exposed mushrooms and some fish like salmon, halibut, mackerel and herring) and the amount in a standard serving isn’t enough to meet your daily needs.
So with that said, I now leave you to go outside and take in that beautiful sun. Then share with me in the comments below one way you get your daily dose.
To getting some sun,