The Sunshine Vitamin
By Nurse Marailee
You might be asking yourself, “Why, in the midst of a Pandemic, is she writing about vitamins and sunshine, shouldn’t she be writing about COVID-19?” Well, I decided on this topic because I want to increase your awareness of a different health crisis - Vitamin D Deficiency. In fact, multiple medical experts report this is an issue of epidemic proportions. Recently, while conducting a modest review of scholarly articles, I found the numbers are shocking: worldwide more than a billion people are Vitamin D Deficient!
Our body absorbs Vitamin D from the sun and by eating foods that are rich in this nutrient (think fatty fish) or fortified, like milk. In order to absorb enough from the sun a person would need to expose, at least, 40% of their skin’s surface for ~20 minutes/day - this is equivalent to lying out in your bathing suit! The improved use of skin protective measures (like sunscreen) have helped reduce our risk of skin cancer, but exacerbated conditions like Vitamin D Deficiency. And did you know, the darker our skin the less Vitamin D our body absorbs from the sun?
Most of us have heard about Vitamin D and its importance in bone health, but what you likely don’t know is the role it plays in many other diseases. Vitamin D balances the work of over 200 genes! Adequate levels of this important vitamin can help protect us against breast, prostate and colon cancer and autoimmune diseases like Crohn's, as well as neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease.
What should you do - talk to your healthcare provider! Together you can discuss possible testing and supplementation, as needed. Word of caution: Vitamin D is fat-soluble - it is stored in fatty tissues and can become toxic if too much is ingested. Thank you for reading and I wish you all good health!