Share this post on your profile with a comment of your own:

Successfully Shared!

View on my Profile
Getting an A in Good Health Means Plenty of Vitamin D

Medically reviewed by Priti Parekh, MD, Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen on January 10, 2023

Maybe staying out of the sun isn’t always the best idea. Yes, wearing sunscreen is an important component of cancer prevention. Yet sunscreen and spending the day indoors reduces our body’s Vitamin D production. Not having enough of this nutrient can lead to serious health issues. Unfortunately, most foods don’t naturally contain sufficient Vitamin D. Supplements can help but it’s easy to overdo it. So how do you get an “A” in good health by boosting your Vitamin D?


An Unconventional Vitamin


While we usually think of vitamins as something we get from food or supplements, Vitamin D is unusual because our bodies can actually produce it. This happens whenever our skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays either artificially or from sunlight. Also called calciferol, this fat-soluble vitamin must be activated because when it enters the body it doesn’t interact with our cells. Because it’s considered biologically inert––like titanium or stainless steel––it must undergo a pair of chemical processes, first in the liver when it’s converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D, then in the kidneys when it becomes activated as 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D].


Because it was included with a dozen other vitamins discovered more than 100 years ago, Vitamin D was “grandfathered” in as a vitamin. Usually vitamins are defined as being obtained from what we eat or drink and not produced by our cells. Besides the sun, a few foods like canned tuna, egg yolks, and mushrooms naturally contain Vitamin D. Whole milk, cereals, and orange juices often have it added (that’s what the label means when it says “fortified”).


Unfortunately, most people don’t consume enough of these foods to get sufficient amounts of the vitamin. Ever since jobs shifted from the fields to the factory, it became harder to get it from sunlight as well. Although remote workers often take daytime strolls, sunscreen––especially with a high sun protection factor (SPF)––reduces Vitamin D production. It’s been debated whether real-world application of sunscreen blocks as much of it as laboratory testing since most people miss parts of their skin, leaving it exposed to the sun.  Plus, exposure’s benefits vary––the further you are from the equator, the time of year, the amount of melatonin in your skin, even pollution can affect absorption of UV rays. Because of all that, it may not be surprising that nearly half of all Americans are Vitamin D deficient. This is even more likely for White people who avoid all sun exposure along with people who have darker skin, eat poorly, or are over the age of 65. This deficiency has some very clear risks.


Next Video >>

Vitamin D Importance

Vitamin D Importance

Why We Need Vitamin D


If you feel better after spending the day outside during a sunny afternoon, increased production of Vitamin D may be a big reason why. That’s because the vitamin is a proven mood booster. One examination of studies on depressed patients revealed that they had significantly lower amounts of Vitamin D in their systems compared to a non-depressed control group. Another study has shown that having adequate amounts of Vitamin D in our systems is linked to living a longer life. Besides that, because the calcium your body needs for building strong bones can only be absorbed if you have enough Vitamin D, fractures and other injuries are often the result of deficiencies. The vitamin is anti-inflammatory, boosts your immune system, and inhibits inflammation and autoimmune diseases. In the age of COVID-19, it’s worth mentioning that studies suggest that Vitamin D supplements may offer protection from respiratory illnesses like one the virus can cause. It’s also been shown to improve sleep and reduce the risk of diabetes. 


When low levels of Vitamin D, specifically 250HD, are compounded with high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, you have a recipe for cardiovascular disease. Low levels of 250HD are also associated with increased risk of depression, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. Even hypertension can be related to low levels of Vitamin D. If you have any of these conditions — or are at risk of getting any of them — getting enough Vitamin D is crucial for your health.


Remember, glass prevents production of this nutrient. That means no matter how toasty your corner office, you aren’t getting any D-producing benefits. That means one of the best ways to get it is to go outdoors on a cloudless afternoon.  Health is a series of trade offs. Many have traded the D-boosting benefits of sunlight for the cancer-protecting advantages of sunscreen. The compromise is that you may only need five to ten minutes of midday light to get the benefit of boosted Vitamin D. Keep in mind that while most skin cancer is connected to UV exposure, the most deadly forms of the disease are more likely to have a genetic link and often occur on the parts of our bodies that never see the sun.


You can also take a supplement––between 400 IU to 1,000 IU a day is ideal for adults. It’s important to note that unlike other vitamins that are water soluble and safely urinated away, Vitamin D is stored in fat. That means taking more than 2,000 IU a day can become dangerous very quickly. The important thing is whether your source is a supplement, sunshine, or diet, getting enough Vitamin D is vital for good health. 


Written by John Bankston

Related Articles

General Care & Birthmarks

Hemangioma: Diagnosis & Treatments

A hemangioma is a type of non-cancerous tumor diagnosed in infancy. It’s considered a kind of birthmark and is usually harmless.

General Care & Birthmarks

Vitiligo Causes And Treatment

Vitiligo is a skin issue that can affect anyone. Treatment options are available for those who wish to take advantage of them.

General Care & Birthmarks

Skin Care Basics

Here are the basics on how to avoid damage to your skin and get a fresh, glowing look without shelling out big bucks on luxury skin care products.

Send this to a friend