If you’re a skin care fanatic, chances are you avoid the sun. After all, too many rays can lead to premature aging and even skin cancer. There are benefits to limited sun exposure, however, and some of these are critical to human health; for example, we humans overwhelmingly rely on sun exposure for our bodies to produce ample Vitamin D. But did you know that according to a study published in Nutrition Research, as many as 41.6% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D?
Here’s why that matters: Vitamin D is used by the body to help absorb essential phosphorous and calcium from the food we eat. These are used constantly to replace bone tissue and repair muscles including the heart. So a lack of Vitamin D can result in weak teeth, bones, and muscles.
Deformities and rickets are common for Vitamin D-deprived children, and people with darker complexions and the elderly also have a more difficult time absorbing enough of this nutrient. A lack of Vitamin D has even been associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a more serious form of the winter blues, although whether this is cause or effect has not been firmly established.
Because of reduced UVB radiation from the sun’s rays during the winter months, as well as our tendency to stay indoors, getting enough sun for Vitamin D production this time of year can be a challenge. It can help to spend some time outdoors, even when temperatures are chilly, so make an effort to expose some skin to the sun for a few minutes each day.
Often, though, sunshine isn’t enough during the gloomy days of winter. That’s where diet comes into play. Fatty fish, including tuna and salmon, are great sources of Vitamin D. Egg yolks are also rich in Vitamin D, although some may shy away from them due to their high cholesterol content. In addition, many foods such as milks and cereals are often fortified.
If you have serious concerns about your Vitamin D levels, it’s important to visit your healthcare provider, who can perform testing to determine any deficiencies and plan a course of action, which may include supplements or a light box for home use. With a bit of strategy, you can assure you’re getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D for long-term health.
Resources:Health, vitamin D, winter