I have a few friends that fear the sun. A few are afraid of wrinkles and skin cancer, and there are those serious goth gals who just dislike all things sunny – you know who you are. These fears, rationale or not, keep these ladies from getting enough Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin.
Your body produces vitamin D after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, as well as a handful of food sources. Many milk products, and even soy milk and some orange juices, are fortified with vitamin D, since deficiency in it can lead to rickets. Once synthesized by your skin (makes me think we humans are a little like plants), vitamin D works to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus by promoting calcium absorption to form and maintain strong bones. This fat soluble vitamin also helps to maintain a healthy immune system and cell growth regulation.
To see how much you need and what foods contain this vitamin
If you are worried about skin cancer or live in a northern clime where UV rays don't reach you regularly in Winter months, you need to get your sunshine vitamin via food or supplements. The recommended daily intake is 400 IU (International Units). Here's a chart of food sources containing vitamin D.
|Food||Serving size||IU per serving||Percent of DV|
|Cod liver oil||1 tablespoon||1360||340|
|Tuna (canned in oil)||3 ounces||200||50|
Most food labels do not list vitamin D content unless a food has been fortified with it. Many cereals are fortified with the the vitamin so check the nutritional information of your favorite brand. Most fortified cereals tend to have about 10% of your daily requirements.
If you want to go the sunshine route, the National Institute of Health recommends 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure at least two times per week to the face, arms, hands, or back without sunscreen. Then protect your skin with sunscreen!