• October 28, 2020

STONE: Bring on the Vitamin D - Odessa American: Levi Stone

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STONE: Bring on the Vitamin D

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Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2020 4:30 am

The last quarter of the year is upon us, segueing fall into winter. Not only does it usher in cooler temperatures, but brings with it shorter days and fewer hours to bask in the sunshine. Unlike the peak of summertime, where there’s as much as 15 hours of sun during the day, sunlight is much less abundant in the winter which can affect our bodies’ intake of an important, but overlooked vitamin, Vitamin D.

Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” anywhere from 80 percent to 90 percent of vitamin D is normally obtained through the skin by direct sunlight exposure. It is essential for strong bones, but also assures a healthy immune system warding off certain diseases and illnesses. With less sunshine this time of year and people spending more and more time indoors, it’s important to consider adding additional Vitamin D by way of diet or supplements.

People may not understand just how important Vitamin D is to overall health. Without it, our bodies cannot effectively absorb calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium and phosphorous. Many of these items, particularly calcium, are necessary to build strong bones, healthy teeth, and prevent osteoporosis.

Vitamin D is also an important building block for every other tissue in the body including the brain, heart, and muscles. Several studies are establishing protecting qualities of Vitamin D and how it boosts immune function, protects against chronic diseases, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders and may even prevent certain cancers. Unfortunately, many people are Vitamin D deficient and should supplement accordingly to address what their bodies are lacking.

Typically, it only takes about 15 minutes of sunlight exposure a day to get your daily allowance of Vitamin D. On some winter days, you may be able to achieve this.

However, certain work, school, or daily routines may prevent us from catching these rays consistently. Coupled with daily sunscreen use (which is still very much encouraged), adequate Vitamin D absorption can be further challenged in the winter. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 600 IU for ages 1 to 70 and 800 IU for older adults. Even still, some doctors may recommend up to 1,000 to 1,200 IU for adults regardless of age.

Including Vitamin D rich foods in your diet is one way to increase absorption. Vitamin D-rich foods include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, sardines and eel.

Most milk and other milk products available at the grocery store are fortified with vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin D. But, these are not the only items fortified. Items such as cereal, juices and yogurt may also contain added Vitamin D.

If fish, milk, or cereals aren’t some of your favorite food items, eggs (particularly the yolks) are another option to give your diet a Vitamin D boost.

For a more convenient and accurate intake of Vitamin D, taking supplements is a great option. Vitamin D supplements are readily available at most grocery stores, vitamin shops, and/or pharmacies. Choosing the right one isn’t necessarily tied to the cost of the supplement itself.

Instead, review independent resources which evaluate these products, without bias, and can help steer you in the right direction in picking a supplement that works best for you and your budget. Consumer Reports is an excellent example and a reliable, trusted, independent testing agency to help in your decisions. Also, make sure to pick a product you are more likely to use such as going with a Vitamin D in liquid or capsule form.

Of course, there are limits to how much Vitamin D we can and should take. Too much of a good thing can have adverse affects, and Vitamin D is no exception.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets a maximum daily limit of 4,000 IU for adults, and although Vitamin D toxicity is very rare, a certain standard of caution should be exercised when using supplements.

Consider your own needs and habits. If you do engage in outdoor activities for periods longer than 15 minutes, more than three times per week, your supplementation requirements may be less than those that love the indoors. Since Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it is absorbed and stored in fat cells, what our body doesn’t use it stores.

This is why it’s important to not exceed 4,000 IU daily. As with any medication or supplement, it is important to first consult with your physician before taking these products and ensures proper dosing is based on your existing diet and lifestyle.

Odessa, TX

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