Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Friday, February 04, 2011

As the weather is warming up just a bit and the sun it staying up a little later, it is beginning to feel like spring here in Northern California. It has finally been warm enough to spend a few minutes outside in the sunshine. Sunlight and fresh air are nourishing in so many ways. Not only does spending time outside help me to fight off the blahs, but soaking up a little sun is actually really healthy for my body as well.

The best way to get vitamin D

When your skin is exposed to sunlight (without sunscreen), your body produces vitamin D. Just 10-15 minutes of exposure to sunlight on your face and arms each day should be adequate to ensure that you are not deficient in this essential vitamin. Keep in mind that sunscreen blocks UV rays and thus this process of vitamin D creation. So wait 10-15 minutes to apply your sunscreen if you are planning to spend more time outside. This short amount of non-blocked and non-burning time in the sun is not damaging to the skin- it is actually very healthy!

Why do we need vitamin D?

Vitamin D plays many different roles in our health, including:
  • Greatly improving absorption of calcium for strong bones
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Protecting against some forms of cancer (colon, prostate, and breast)
Vitamin D-rich foods

If you live in a northern area or the weather is not currently conducive to catching a few rays, you can get vitamin D from dietary sources. The best food sources of vitamin D include fortified foods such as non-dairy milk products and cereals (non-vegan: dairy products, salmon, mackerel, egg yolks, and fish liver oils).

Try these combos for a vitamin D-rich breakfast or snack:
  • Yogurt (dairy or fortified non-dairy) sprinkled with a fortified cereal, walnuts, and fresh fruit
  • Fortified cereal with milk (dairy or fortified non-dairy) topped with fruit and slivered almonds

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