How to Get Vitamin D Naturally
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is an important nutrient needed by the body for optimal health. It assists in the absorption of calcium which in turn keeps our bones and teeth strong and healthy. Vitamin D also helps with the regulation of immune function and contributes to the prevention of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Unfortunately, many people around the world suffer from Vitamin D deficiency due to several reasons. In this article, we will explore natural ways to get Vitamin D to help maintain a healthy body and prevent deficiency.
Spend Some Time in the Sun
One of the easiest ways to get vitamin D naturally is through sun exposure. The skin produces Vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from the sun. The process of Vitamin D synthesis begins when UVB radiation penetrates the skin, converts cholesterol in the skin to Vitamin D3, which then enters the bloodstream.
Optimal times and duration for sun exposure
The best time to get adequate Vitamin D from the sun is during the midday hours when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. During this time, the UVB rays are most intense and penetrate the skin more effectively. It is recommended to expose bare skin (without sunscreen) to the sun for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, two to three times per week. Individuals with darker skin may need to expose their skin for a longer period to get the same amount of Vitamin D. It is important to note that prolonged sun exposure can lead to sunburn, skin damage, and an increased risk of skin cancer.
Risks associated with prolonged sun exposure
It is important to strike a balance between getting enough Vitamin D and protecting oneself from the harmful effects of prolonged sun exposure. Sunburn can occur within 15 minutes of exposure to UV radiation, leading to skin damage and an increased risk of skin cancer. The use of sunscreen with an adequate sun protection factor (SPF) can help to prevent sunburn and, ultimately, skin damage.
Incorporate Vitamin D-Rich Foods into Your Diet
Another natural way to get Vitamin D is by incorporating Vitamin D-rich foods into your diet. While the amounts of vitamin D found in food are lower than those produced by the skin from sun exposure, they can still contribute to overall Vitamin D intake.
Examples of Vitamin D-rich foods
Foods that are rich in Vitamin D include oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Other sources of Vitamin D include egg yolks, mushrooms, fortified cereals, and dairy products like milk and cheese.
Recommended daily intake of Vitamin D
The recommended daily intake of Vitamin D varies depending on age and health status. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that infants from birth to 12 months be given 400 international units (IU) per day of Vitamin D. Children over the age of one year and adults up to the age of 70 years should consume 600IU per day. Adults over the age of 70 years should consume 800IU per day.
Consider Taking a Vitamin D Supplement
A Vitamin D supplement can be an effective way to get Vitamin D when natural sources are limited. Supplements are available over the counter in various forms including tablets, capsules, and drops.
When to consider taking supplements
Supplements may be necessary for individuals who are unable to get enough Vitamin D from sun exposure or diet. Those who live in areas with limited sunlight, wear clothing that covers most of their skin, have a darker skin tone, or who do not consume enough Vitamin D-rich foods may benefit from taking supplements.
Recommended daily intake of supplements
The recommended dosage of Vitamin D supplements varies depending on age and health status. The NIH recommends that adults up to the age of 70 years consume 600-800IU per day. Adults over the age of 70 years should consume 800-1000IU per day.
Types of supplements available
Vitamin D supplements are available in two forms: Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is the most effective form of Vitamin D supplement as it is more readily absorbed by the body than Vitamin D2.
Go Outside in the Morning or Late Afternoon
Getting enough Vitamin D through sunlight can be challenging and may require careful planning. Going outside in the morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky and the UVB rays are less intense, can help to reduce the risk of sunburn and skin damage while still providing the opportunity for Vitamin D synthesis.
Benefits of avoiding peak sun hours
Avoiding peak sun hours can also help to reduce the risk of skin damage and sunburn. Staying in the shade or wearing protective clothing can further protect the skin from UV radiation.
Use Sunscreen with Caution
While sunscreen can protect the skin from UV radiation, it can also inhibit the production of Vitamin D in the skin. Sunscreen should only be used when necessary and applied in a manner that allows for adequate Vitamin D synthesis.
Risks associated with overusing sunscreen
Overusing sunscreen can lead to Vitamin D deficiency. Applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above can reduce Vitamin D production by up to 97%. Individuals who use sunscreen regularly should consider also consuming Vitamin D-rich foods or taking supplements to ensure they receive sufficient Vitamin D.
Recommendations for using sunscreen
It is recommended to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply it after swimming or sweating. Additionally, sunscreen should be applied after the skin has had an opportunity to synthesize Vitamin D; for example, applying sunscreen after 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure can help to ensure adequate Vitamin D synthesis before protecting the skin with sunscreen.
Get Enough Magnesium and Zinc
Magnesium and Zinc are important minerals that aid in the absorption of Vitamin D.
How Magnesium and Zinc aid in Vitamin D absorption
Magnesium and Zinc aid in the conversion of Vitamin D into its active form, which is necessary for it to be utilized by the body. Adequate levels of Magnesium and Zinc can, therefore, help to ensure that the body is able to efficiently use the Vitamin D obtained through diet and sun exposure.
Foods rich in Magnesium and Zinc
Foods rich in Magnesium include nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy green vegetables. Foods rich in Zinc include meat, seafood, nuts, and whole grains.
Consult with Your Healthcare Provider
If you are experiencing symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider. Diagnostic tests are available to measure Vitamin D levels in the body, and a healthcare provider can recommend appropriate treatment options.
When to consider seeking medical advice
Individuals with limited sun exposure, those with a darker skin tone, and those who do not consume enough Vitamin D-rich foods may be at a higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency and should consider speaking with their healthcare provider.
Diagnostic tests available
Diagnostic tests include a blood test that measures the levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the body. This test is used to determine whether an individual is deficient in Vitamin D and can help healthcare providers determine appropriate treatment options.
Treatment options available
Treatment options for Vitamin D deficiency include increasing sun exposure, increasing intake of Vitamin D-rich foods, and taking Vitamin D supplements. Healthcare providers can recommend the appropriate treatment based on individual needs.
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient required by the body for optimal health. It is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth and is necessary for the regulation of immune function. Getting enough Vitamin D can be challenging, but incorporating Vitamin D-rich foods, spending time in the sun, and taking supplements can help to maintain adequate levels. It is important to strike a balance between getting enough Vitamin D and protecting oneself from the harmful effects of prolonged sun exposure. Consult with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency.