Don't Let The Sun Fool You - 6 Reasons You Should Take Vitamin D Supplements Year-round
It is officially spring and in many places across the country we are getting a lot more sunny days. If you're anything like me I'm sure you've heard vitamin D referred to as the sunshine vitamin and have observed winter blues attributed to vitamin D deficiency. There's this unspoken myth that the sun alone is the magical cure. While your body can naturally produce vitamin D when exposed to UVB rays, I'm here to shed light on why it may be wise to take vitamin D supplements even when the clouds are at bay.
Why do you need vitamin D in the first place?
How do you say it's needed for almost everything without saying you need it for everything? Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that supports many functions in your body. One of the primary roles of vitamin D is to help your body absorb and use calcium, which is critical for building strong bones and teeth. It also promotes brain health and cognitive function by supporting nerve growth and neurotransmitter production. It plays a role in regulating your sleep and mood. It helps your immune system protect your body against infections and diseases. Vitamin D has been shown to help regulate inflammation, improve muscle strength and balance, and may even reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. So as you can see, it's critical to have adequate amounts of vitamin D for optimal health.
Why the sun alone may not be enough vitamin D
1. You spend most of the day indoors
Even though a sunny day may make you want to be outside more, the realities of life, such as work or school can prevent you from being outside as much as you need to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D.
2. You use sunscreen when outdoors
Ironically when you go outside, there's a great chance that you use sunscreen. Sunscreen helps protect the skin against the harmful effects of UV radiation like skin cancer, but it also reduces the amount of UVB radiation that is available for the skin to synthesize vitamin D.
3. You have seasonal allergies
Seasonal allergies typically flare up during spring and summer, so you may find that the sneezing, congestion, runny nose and other bothersome symptoms are not worth the trade off to soak up some vitamin D.
4. You are a senior
The capacity of your skin to produce vitamin D from exposure to sunlight diminishes with age.
5. You have dark skin
Dark skin tones have more melanin, which acts as a natural sunscreen, reducing the amount of UVB radiation that can penetrate the skin and trigger vitamin D production.
6. You carry extra body weight
If you carry extra body weight, your fat cells may be holding onto vitamin D, making it less available for use in your body. This could mean you actually need more than the daily recommended value which is even more difficult to get solely from sun exposure.
What other ways can you get vitamin D?
According to Better Health Channel, about 5-10 % of vitamin D can be obtained from food. While that is not enough to rely solely on your diet either, it is a source to consider. You can find vitamin D in foods like fatty fish, meat, mushrooms, cheese and fortified products such as milk and orange juice.
The best way to get adequate vitamin D
While sunlight and diet can provide some vitamin D, the best and most reliable source to make sure you have sufficient vitamin D year-round is through supplementation. With a quality vitamin D supplement you will know exactly how much vitamin D you are consuming and it will be consistent no matter the weather or life circumstances.
Vitamin D supplements come in different forms such as liquid drops, gummies, powders and traditional tablets. It's important to choose the supplement form that works best for you and your lifestyle. For example, if you struggle with swallowing pills, you might prefer a gummy or powder form.
It's also important to check the labels of the supplements you choose to make sure they fit your dietary restrictions, if you have any. For example, some supplements may contain ingredients that are not suitable for vegans or individuals with certain food allergies.
Discover these Vitamin D Options
The Bottom Line
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, immune function, brain health and overall wellbeing. Getting enough vitamin D can be challenging, especially if you're relying solely on sunlight but supplementation is the best way to make sure you have sufficient vitamin D year-round. When selecting a supplement, take the time to read the label carefully and choose the form that works best for you and your dietary needs.
Before taking any new supplements or making changes to your health regimen, it's important to check with your healthcare provider. This is particularly important if you are pregnant, nursing, or have a medical condition. Your healthcare provider can help you determine if supplements are right for you and can advise you on the proper dosage and any potential interactions with other medications you may be taking.
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