Soak Up the Sun (Safely) for More Vitamin D

June 3, 2024 by Jesse Zucker
Soak Up the Sun (Safely) for More Vitamin D

WASHINGTON — Summer is quickly approaching and plenty of vitamin D will be available through a free resource: the sun. Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, is an essential vitamin in which many people are deficient. Soaking up the sun is one way of getting it, but since sun safety is important, you likely can’t get all that you need from sunbathing.

Here, we’ll explain vitamin D, what it does in your body, the risks of a deficiency, how much you need and how to get more safely. 

Exploring Vitamin D

There are two groups of vitamins: fat-soluble vitamins, which are stored in your body, and water-soluble vitamins, which are stored in water and leave your body. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, along with vitamins A, E, and K. The water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and nine B vitamins.

Unlike other vitamins, which can only be taken through food or supplement sources, vitamin D gets produced in your skin after sun exposure to ultraviolet rays, which is why it’s called the sunshine vitamin. 

Types of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a group of vitamins, and your vitamin D levels are determined by how much of each you have in your body.

  • Vitamin D2: Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, comes from plant sources and supplements.
  • Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, comes from animal-based food sources, supplements and the sun.

Regarding dietary supplements, research suggests taking vitamin D3 is the most effective way to raise vitamin D levels. 

What Vitamin D Does in Your Body

Vitamin D’s primary function is to help balance calcium and phosphorus levels in your body, which is essential for bone health. 

Here’s how it works and other important functions:

  • Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium to keep a healthy level of bone mineralization. It also helps with bone growth and formation in children and helps maintain bone strength and density as you age.
  • It supports muscle and nerve function.
  • It reduces chronic inflammation.
  • It helps support healthy cellular growth.
  • It supports a strong immune system and cardiovascular system.
  • It plays a role in glucose metabolism.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Over one billion people worldwide, across all ages, genders and ethnicities, have a vitamin D deficiency. Over 50% of the world’s population has insufficient levels. 

Certain populations may be more vulnerable to a vitamin D deficiency, including people who spend a lot of time inside, people in climates without sun, people with darker skin, people with gastrointestinal diseases, breastfed infants and older adults. 

The United States Food and Nutrition Board offers the following recommended daily allowance for vitamin D. The numbers are the same for all genders but increase with age.

  • Infants under 12 months: 400 international units or 10 micrograms.
  • People up to age 70: 600 IU or 15 mcg.
  • Adults over 70: 800 IU or 18 mcg.

Health Risks of Low and Deficient Vitamin D Levels

The primary health conditions associated with low vitamin D levels come from weak bones. These include:

  • Rickets: soft, weak bones in children.
  • Osteomalacia: soft, weak bones in adults.
  • Osteoporosis: thin, weak bones in older adults.

These conditions can increase your risk of fractures and falls, especially in older adults. 

Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with depression, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular diseases. While, taking vitamin D doesn’t necessarily improve these conditions, it could be one part of the puzzle.

How to Get More Vitamin D

Get a blood test from your doctor to determine your vitamin D levels. If you are deficient, they may recommend a dietary supplement. 

It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from the sun, especially since wearing sunscreen and practicing sun safety is crucial for skin health, or food, which is why a deficiency is so common. 

Adding the following foods, which have some vitamin D, to your diet may help increase your levels naturally:

  • Fortified foods, including milk, cereal, yogurt, and orange juice.
  • Fortified mushrooms exposed to UV ray.s
  • Cod liver oil.
  • Trout.
  • Mackerel.
  • Salmon.
  • Sardines.
  • Egg yolks.
  • Cheese.

Let the Sunshine In

The most important thing vitamin D does in your body is help you absorb calcium and keep your bones healthy and strong, which is increasingly important as you age. Spending some safe time in the sun this summer could help, but check with your doctor to find out if you need a supplement.

Our website content, services and products are for informational purposes only. The Well News does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have medical concerns or questions, discuss with your health care professional.

You can reach us at [email protected] and follow us on Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter)

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Health

Majority of Americans Favor Forgiving Medical Debt, AP-NORC Poll Finds

NEW YORK (AP) — Janille Williams wants to buy a house someday — but first, he has to pay down... Read More

NEW YORK (AP) — Janille Williams wants to buy a house someday — but first, he has to pay down tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt. “I was hospitalized for a blood infection for three months more than ten years ago, and the bill... Read More

June 17, 2024
by Anna Claire Miller
Biden Campaign Redoubling Effort to Keep Abortion Rights Front of Mind for Voters

WASHINGTON — With the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade fast approaching, the Biden-Harris... Read More

WASHINGTON — With the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade fast approaching, the Biden-Harris campaign is organizing volunteers to share what they’ve experienced since that ruling went into effect. Decided on June 24, 2022, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization... Read More

Drug Shortages Keep on Growing. Older, Injectable Medicines Among the Most Vulnerable

Erin Fox has tracked drug shortages for more than 20 years, and she sees no easy solutions for what has... Read More

Erin Fox has tracked drug shortages for more than 20 years, and she sees no easy solutions for what has become a record run. Total active shortages hit an all-time high of 323 in this year’s first quarter, according to the University of Utah Drug Information... Read More

Surgeon General Asks Congress to Require Warning Labels for Social Media, Like Those on Cigarettes

The U.S. surgeon general has called on Congress to require warning labels on social media platforms similar to those now mandatory... Read More

The U.S. surgeon general has called on Congress to require warning labels on social media platforms similar to those now mandatory on cigarette boxes. In a Monday opinion piece in the The New York Times, Dr. Vivek Murthy said that social media is a contributing factor in... Read More

June 17, 2024
by Jesse Zucker
How the Ocean Improves Mental and Physical Health

WASHINGTON — June 20 marks the first day of summer, and there’s nothing like a day by the ocean to... Read More

WASHINGTON — June 20 marks the first day of summer, and there’s nothing like a day by the ocean to ring it in. In the spirit of the changing season, we’ll discuss how being near or in the ocean can improve mental and physical health. The... Read More

June 17, 2024
by Jesse Zucker
Exercise Boosts Motor Learning and Memory

WASHINGTON — Learning a new skill or studying for an exam? Recent research confirms a quick bout of exercise before... Read More

WASHINGTON — Learning a new skill or studying for an exam? Recent research confirms a quick bout of exercise before and after learning can improve motor skills and boost memory to help you retain what you learned. It’s not a new idea, but the study explores... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top