The human body works so hard for us and is one of our biggest supporters, literally. That makes it our job to protect and nourish it in order to keep it that way! With summer upon us and the temperature heating up, it is important to go over both the vitality and dangers of Vitamin D, otherwise known as the Sunshine Vitamin, along with ways to find a balance between the two for this summer.
Why is Vitamin D Important?
Did you know that Vitamin D is something our bodies make after being exposed to sunlight? While we can also find it in foods, we get a large portion of it from being out in the sun. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is broken down in fats and stored in body tissue until it is needed. This is necessary for the human body to support healthy bones, boost immune health, regulate mood, reduce depression, and fight certain diseases.
Our bodies produce Vitamin D naturally when exposed to the sun, which makes it the easiest way to get it. During the summer months this is not a problem for most, but many people lack it in the winter when there is less sunlight. In order to compensate, choose to eat foods rich in Vitamin D, such as salmon, fortified orange juice, egg yolks, mushrooms, milk, and yogurt.
Or, ask your doctor about taking a Vitamin D supplement in the winter months. Here is a list of dietitian approved Vitamin D supplements. When taking supplements, make sure to look for D3 and K2 to assure the best absorption of the vitamin. You can also look into extra sources of magnesium to boost Vitamin D. Also, be aware of products with D2 added to them, as the body does not break this version of the vitamin down as easily for absorption. (Another fun fact is that D3 is generally animal-based, while D2 is plant-based.)
Daily Vitamin D Intake
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults is about 600 international units of Vitamin D per day. Depending on where you are geographically, and the location of the sun, this can be anywhere from six minutes to an hour of sunlight per day. While wearing shorts and a t-shirt (to expose some skin necessary for producing Vitamin D), consider going on a daily walk, reading a book outside, or going on a bike ride every day to make sure your body is generating Vitamin D from the sun this summer.
It is very important to also take precautions before being in the sun. Our bodies are delicate and must be taken care of. Before sun exposure, be sure to apply sunscreen to protect your body from burns and practice good skincare techniques. Generally, lotion sunscreens are more effective than sprays at blocking harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays as they provide a more solid layer of protection. Also, aerosols can be harmful to the lungs. Remember if you are in the water to reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours!
Sunscreen prevents sunburn by blocking UVB light, which consequently also lowers the intake of Vitamin D. However, it is highly unlikely to put on enough sunscreen to fully block out all UVB rays and risk not getting enough Vitamin D. This is why it is important to find a balance between absorbing that Vitamin D, but also protecting yourself from too much sun exposure.
Finding an affordable and effective sunscreen can be a little difficult. Did you know only two active ingredients in sunscreen are FDA approved—zinc oxide and titanium dioxide? Many of the other ingredients found in common sunscreens have not been proven safe or effective. Here is a list of best daily-use SPF sunscreens/moisturizers for 2022, provided by the Environmental Working Group. Look for a sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF that you can add to your morning routine. It is important to wear everyday underneath any makeup as well. Think of applying sunscreen like brushing your teeth—an essential step to keep your body healthy and prevent damage.
So, how are you going to get your Vitamin D this summer?
Set a goal to get at least 15 minutes of sunshine a day doing something you enjoy. But remember to balance it out by practicing healthy skin care habits and applying sunscreen every morning. The sun is essential to increasing Vitamin D in our bodies, but too much sun can do long-term damage without proper protection.