Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining strong bones, decreasing cognitive decline, and supporting heart health. While this important vitamin is found naturally in a limited number of foods, as well as fortified foods, it is most frequently received from the sun. The suns UVB radiation is absorbed by our skin and converted into vitamin D. This makes it easy to get vitamin D during the summer simply by being outside.
Staying up on your vitamin D consumption in the winter months requires more active focus though. The days become shorter, and the cooler temperatures may keep you inside. The tilt of the earth can also make the suns rays weaker in your geographic location. If you are not eating foods with enough vitamin D in, you may have low vitamin D levels during the winter months. For this reason, many patients will opt to supplement their vitamin D during the winter.
Across the entire US population, 42% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. While we do not have statistics for Minnesota in particular, we can theorize that states like Texas (with warmer year-round temperatures) would have less seasonal changes in vitamin D consumption than Minnesota. Additionally, your distance from the equator plays a factor in weakening the UVB rays from the sun, and thus your ability to absorb vitamin D.
Anyone under the age of 70 years old is recommended to consume 15 mcg or 600 IU of vitamin D. Maintaining strong bones with vitamin D is even more important for those over age 70, with a recommendation of 20 mcg or 800 IU.
of the US population has vitamin D deficiency (NIH)
of your skin should be exposed for optimal sunlight absorption (NIH)
10 to 30
minutes is the recommended amount of time to spend in unprotected sunlight a few times per week (NIH)
amount of additional daylight on June 21 compared to December 21 in Minnesota.
How Vitamin D Supports Healthy Bones
Vitamin D is crucial to helping your body absorb calcium. Without vitamin D, your body could not facilitate the calcium absorption process that takes place in your gut.
Children who consume an adequate amount of calcium during their childhood will often develop higher bone mass as adults, compared to children who consume less than the recommended amount of calcium. Vitamin D plays a key role in facilitating this.
Your risk of weak or brittle bones increases with age. This is partially why the recommended amount of daily vitamin D increases with age.
What Conditions does Vitamin D Reduce Your Risk Of?
Osteoporosis: Those that consume enough vitamin D and calcium can slow bone mineral loss which helps prevent bone fractures and osteoporosis.
Inherited Bone Disorders: Vitamin D supplements have been used to treat inherited bone disorders.
Multiple sclerosis: Research is still ongoing, but it suggests that long-term use of vitamin D supplements may reduce your risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
Foods Sources of Vitamin D
Salmon is a popular choice among fish and carries a bold amount of natural vitamin D.
Along with other dairy products, milk is commonly fortified with Vitamin D alongside iron and other nutrients.
Most egg protein is found in the egg white, but one egg yolk contains about 5% daily vitamin D.
The only noteworthy vegan food source of vitamin D. They have vitamin D2 (less effective than D3 found in the other listed foods).
How Vitamin D Supports Your Brain and Heart
Vitamin D’s connection to brain and heart health is still early in research, but promising information has been discovered.
It is believed that vitamin D may slow cognitive decline. Researchers discovered that vitamin D was present in brain tissues, and was more plentiful in brains with higher cognitive function. Vitamin D also aids in clearing out molecules from the brain that have been associated with causing Alzheimer’s.
There also appears to be a correlation between increased vitamin D and better cardiovascular health. However, this does not directly indicate that vitamin D is the reason for improved cardiovascular health. Because vitamin D is absorbed naturally from the sun, one could theorize that those who spend more time outside, are both more active and able to draw in more vitamin D.
Does Sunscreen Block Vitamin D?
While UVB rays are great for absorbing vitamin D, they are dangerous in regard to your risk of developing sunburns and skin cancer. That is why sunscreen does the job of blocking UVB rays. While wearing sunscreen you will not absorb vitamin D.
It is in your best interest to only have 10 to 30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure every few days for your vitamin D absorption. Beyond this, wear sunscreen when in direct sunlight for extended periods of time.
Supplement Your Vitamin D
Supports cardiovascular function, healthy mood and stress levels, bone and skin tissues, and immune function. This is a highly bioavailable form of Vitamin D that provides 125 mcg (5,000 IU) per softgel.
Vitamin D supplements are widely available from the big box stores, but we recommend trying a vitamin D supplement from a leading brand in clinic-grade supplements like NutriDyn. Try it and see the difference for yourself.