Crucial Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D from Sunlight

Vitamin D Basics

Last week we covered the importance of calcium in our body. As you will see with the upcoming posts, many of our body’s functions rely on different vitamins and minerals to work together. Vitamin D, also called the “Sunshine” Vitamin, works closely with calcium. It helps promote absorption of calcium in our body and is also required for bone growth and remodeling. Bones are constantly being reformed as our body uses up calcium. Therefore, if enough calcium isn’t absorbed, bones can become weak and brittle. Other uses include cell growth, muscular function, and helping to reduce inflammation. Vitamin D may also protect against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cancer, and other diseases.

Food Sources

Vitamin D is found in very few foods. Some of them include: fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), fish liver oils, cheese, and egg yolks. This vitamin is also commonly added to various fortified foods. For example, milk, cereal, orange juice, yogurt, and margarine. Please note: This is not always the case with fortified foods, so remember to check the label or nutrition facts to make sure that the Vitamin D has been added. Vitamin D usually comes in two forms, D2 and D3. D2 is produced mainly by plants and D3 by sunlight exposure. Either can be added to fortified foods.

Sun Exposure

Now this is the part I love. Going outside! Our lifestyles today tend to keep us inside, and sedentary. Believe it or not, you can actually produce Vitamin D yourself, when you are exposed to sunlight! So if you hate fish and dairy products, just go outside. Certain UV rays can penetrate uncovered skin and trigger the creation of the vitamin. It is generally recommended to have 5-30 minutes of sun exposure between 10am and 3pm, twice a week. That is just for us to make a good amount of Vitamin D and weather conditions can affect how much we make. You are more than welcome to spend more time outside, but don’t forget the sunblock.

Keep in Mind

  • Having too much UV radiation can cause various skin cancers.
  • Not having enough can lead to rickets, a disorder where bone tissue doesn’t mineralize normally, leading to soft bones and deformations.
  • For all of you that sit next to a window, sorry but that does not count! UV rays are blocked by the glass in our windows, and do not hit our skin. So, you still have to go outside for atleast 30 mins.
I have not covered supplements at all, just because I believe that they are unnecesarry in this case. It is completely possible to get Vitamin D from our diet and sunshine. Next week I will be covering the benefits of Magnesium, another mineral that affects bones and muscles.