Sunshine not only affects a positive mood, it also has the ability to assist our skin in making Vitamin D.

Although it has been considered a vitamin in the classic sense, Vitamin D is a nutrient hormone.

There is confusion about whether or not one should expose themselves to the sun.  Dermatologists warn us about skin cancer, yet sun exposure is a natural way of getting your vitamin D.  Eighty percent   of the body’s supply of Vitamin D is produced when ultraviolet radiation (UBV) from sunlight reacts with a precursor chemical found in the skin.  When 40% of the skin is exposed to 20-30 minutes of the summer sun, it may synthesize 20,000 IU of Vitamin D.  The current RDA for Vitamin D is only 400 IU daily.  Using sunscreens with a SPF of 8 or above can block the suns UVB rays, thus preventing vitamin D production.   Sun exposure is the absolute best way to get Vitamin D, it is the most natural way to acquire it and your body “ self-regulates” the amount you receive.

The food sources of Vitamin D are limited.  The most abundant amounts are found in oily fish, such as: Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel and old fashioned Cod Liver Oil.  Because of the limited natural sources, numerous foods such as milk are vitamin D fortified.

You can acquire Vitamin D by taking it in supplement form.   For anyone living north of the Atlanta Georgia latitude there isn’t enough sun exposure except during the summer months to make enough Vitamin D to nourish the body with its benefits.   For those living in the northern climates it becomes necessary to either supplement with Vitamin D3 and/or use the UVB tanning beds.  These are the best ways to acquire this nutrient during the cold winter months.  However, please have your doctor run a blood test to determine your current vitamin D levels prior to taking Vitamin D supplements.

Current scientific research suggests that “all cells and tissues in the body have vitamin D receptors” and further concludes that every cell and tissue “needs” vitamin D for its well-being.    There is increasing evidence for this vitamin’s role in preventing cancers, autoimmune diseases, Type I Diabetes, Heart Disease and Osteoporosis.  Low Vitamin D levels have been associated with increased risk for depression, dental caries, and periodontal disease and are considered a risk factor for dementia.  Recent research has revealed that Vitamin D protects the body against certain chronic ailments such as: chronic pain, muscle weakness, (fibromyalgia pain), high blood pressure and other immune system related diseases such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease ,  Multiple Sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

When the above health implications and effects of low vitamin D levels are taken into account, it becomes very important to have levels tested to ensure there is enough of this vital nutrient in the body.

Be smart when being out in the summer sun.  The best time to be out is before 11:00a.m. and after 4:00p.m.  When the skin starts to turn pink, it’s time to leather on the sunscreen or get out of the sun.

Enjoy the sun; respect its therapeutic properties and also its damaging effects.  Be wise about sun exposure.

This information is for educational purposes only and it not intended as diagnosis or treatment.  Dr. Elia Acuna is a chiropractor and is Board Certified by the American Clinical Board of Nutrition.  Her office is located at 111 East Indiana Maumee Ohio.