It is that time of year when the days are shorter and the nights are longer. As a result, we expose ourselves to less sunlight which can be good or bad for us. Too much sun exposure leads to wrinkles and possible skin cancer, however, too little leads to vitamin D deficiency. What is vitamin D and why do we need it?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin ( it dissolves in fat, and the excess is stored in the liver)that is essential for maintaining normal calcium metabolism. Its main role is to support proper bone health. Vitamin D can be synthesized by in the skin through UVB exposure from sunlight, but it can also be obtained through diet. There is even beauty products out there that contain high concentration of topical vitamin D like skin moisturizers and self-tanners.
When our bodies are deficient in vitamin D, you stand the risk of having bone disease such as rickets and weak bones and muscles. Studies have also shown that vitamin D deficiency also has an elevated risk of developing cancers of the colon, breast and prostate, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and immune system abnormalities that can result in infections and autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Spending as little as 10 to 15 minutes in the sun a day will supply your body with enough vitamin D. However, now that the days are colder and we spend less time outside, there are ways to obtain vitamin D in your diet. Some foods that are high in vitamin D are salmon, mushrooms (button and shiitake), breakfast cereals that are vitamin D fortified, and dairy products are excellent sources of vitamin D. As far as consuming too much, it is highly unlikely. When you expose yourself to too much sunlight, your skin has a built in cutoff level. When too much is ingested from supplement, vitamin toxicity can result which includes nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness and weight loss. As far as normal levels, the current recommended intake of vitamin D , established by the Institute of Medicine is 200 I.U. a day. An 8oz glass of milk contains 100 I.U. of vitamin D. An important fact to know if that yogurt and cottage cheese are not made from fortified milk so they have no vitamin D. A 3.5 oz piece of salmon has 360 I.U. of vitamin D.
A lot of people do not realize the importance of vitamin D in our bodies. Especially as the seasons have changed, we spend less time outdoors but keep in mind how important it is to obtain this in our diets. Keeping our bodies functioning at optimal levels at all times of the year is the key to life-long health and fitness.
Jodi Tiahrt is a fitness model and competitor who as competed in over 40 fitness,figure, bikini, and sports model competitions with 36 first placetitles. She is also a certified personal trainer, nutritionist, pilatesinsturctor and fitness pole dance instructor with Bachelors of Science Degree in biology (Pre Med) with minors in chemistry and health science.