The “sunshine vitamin” is most often connected with building and maintaining bone health, as it aids the absorption of calcium. It’s key in battling osteoporosis. But claims are being made for vitamin D benefits in fighting certain cancers, fatigue and fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases and diabetes. The list goes on.
Certainly no one disputes that lack of vitamin D creates problems for all human beings. Fortunately for us, the sun has an inexhaustible supply. During the winter, supplementation is almost always necessary for good health. Now that it’s almost spring, it’s time to stock up on the free stuff.
Some experts say direct exposure to the sun for as little as five minutes a day, three times a week will deliver a sufficient dose of D. Others call for more exposure. Quality time with the sun is especially important for late-shift workers and other night owls. (Computer geeks, listen up.) The best time to grab those rays is midday.
Skin pigmentation plays a big role in the time needed for proper absorption of the sun’s natural vitamin D. Hispanics, for example, need perhaps double the time, while black-skinned people need even more. The amount of exposed skin also comes into play. As well as your distance from the Equator.
Remember that the essential UV-B radiation doesn’t penetrate auto glass or strong sun screens. We’re talking direct exposure, nothing between you and the sun. You can’t overdose on vitamin D gained from sun exposure, but of course you can burn.
The supplement that’s considered most effective is actually vitamin D3. Most multis use vitamin D2, which reportedly isn’t much help.
How much vitamin D to take: The government recommends taking in 200 IUs of vitamin D for people up to age 50. For those between 50 and 70, it’s 400 IUs. Over 70, consider 600 IUs. Doses of up to 1,000 IUs are considered safe and some researchers call for 2,000 or more a day. Check with your doctor for anything over 1,000 IUs.