Summer is here. And so is our opportunity to up our Vitamin D.
If you don’t know about this important vitamin, you should. This one nutrient, easy to measure, can help with so many things in the body! Functions like bone strength, immunity, wound healing, muscle pain, headache, mental health, inflammation control and proper immune function. Those with extremely low levels have higher risk for various cancers, hypertension and autoimmunity.
The best way for the body to make Vitamin D is from sunlight. How much you make depends on your genetics and also on skin tone, how much of your body is exposed to the sun and your age. It’s hard to tell if your Vitamin D is sufficient unless you test. Lucky for us, Vitamin D testing is readily available and covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare.
Test, don’t guess.
Especially now, in the middle of the pandemic. Make sure your level is within the normal limits and optimally, on the higher side of the lab range. Being below acceptable levels should be a huge red flag.
In the summer, the best way to get more Vitamin D into the body is through direct exposure to sunlight. Many folks have been lead to believe that sun is bad – and, yes, too much of it can cause us to burn and may lead to skin problems. But a sensible amount, every day, is key for every one of us. A reasonable place to start is to have 20 minutes of direct sun exposure on a daily basis (without sunscreen) for 20 minutes. This means arms and legs and as much of the rest of the body as possible.
After that, if you feel that you are getting burned, do use a sunscreen, but pick one that won’t expose you to a host of toxic chemicals you don’t want. The skin is a huge mouth. Whatever you put on it, will end up in the body. Please consult with the Environmental Working Group guide to safe sunscreens and to understand why those sold in “regular” stores may not be optimal.
If you want to learn more, the Vitamin D Society is a great resource. But in the meantime, pull out your previous lab work and check your level. Make sure you are above the bottom of the range. If you don’t have recent testing, ask your doctor for a prescription – it’s a simple blood test or a finger prick. This is one of the markers that should be checked yearly. Many high-quality Vitamin D supplements are available – you may want one that includes other companion vitamins such as Vitamin K and Vitamin A. Magnesium supplement may be needed if you are taking high doses of D to reach the lab range. And many people supplement more in the winter than they do in the summer (because of the lack of direct sunlight during the winter months).
Mother Nature gives us what we need. And in this case, our lifestyle is a big contributor to why many of us are deficient in basic nutrients like Vitamin D. So get tested, and together with your doctor, figure out the best way to replenish. Follow your doctor’s advice on any supplement you are considering. Your body will thank you!
Here Comes the Sun!