Let the Sunshine in with Vitamin D-3
February 16, 2011
During dreary winter months, I long for the days when I can close my eyes, face the sun and warm my face in its glow – soaking in rays and producing small doses of the wonder vitamin, vitamin D.
Vitamin D, often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin”, is actually a fat-soluble vitamin that the body synthesizes naturally in the skin when it is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays. Vitamin D is available in two forms: D-2 (ergocalciferol) and D-3 (cholecalciferol). D-2 is derived from plants and fungus, while D-3 is made from sunlight and animal sources like fish, and has been proven to be more effective than D-2. Sun exposure on the hands, face, arms and legs two to three times a week can produce enough vitamin D in most individuals. However, I want to note that excessive exposure does not lead to overproduction of vitamin D. Even though sunlight may be a primary source of vitamin D-3 for some, the RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowance) are set on minimal sun exposure and may not meet the needs of most individuals. Vitamin D levels depend on several factors:
- Pigmentation in the skin–darker skinned people have lower vitamin D levels
- Altitude–individuals living in the mountains usually have higher levels
- Body weight–Vitamin D is absorbed by fat cells which can lead to low levels of vitamin D in your body.
Despite the sun’s role in vitamin D synthesis, for most, it’s important to limit exposure to sunlight and UV radiation from tanning beds. Not to mention that depending on the intensity of UVB rays and amount of exposure, vitamin D degrades as fast as it is produced. So, you may ask, why bother?
The reason is this: recent clinical trials have revealed sufficient levels of vitamin D can benefit the human body in several ways. Vitamin D boosts immunity, assists the body in absorbing calcium and fortifying bones and development, supports cardiovascular health, supports respiratory ailments, and boosts metabolism assisting in weight maintenance. Additional studies also indicate that vitamin D could be instrumental in protection from diseases like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, auto-immune diseases and many others. These types of research have led to the acceptance of vitamin D supplementation in mainstream modern medicine. Physicians across the US are testing and prescribing high dosage supplementation of vitamin D, but unfortunately, the prescription doses contain the far less effective form—vitamin D-2—and often have a shorter shelf life.
So, as winter goes on, consider the benefits of supplementing with a quality, all-natural vitamin D-3 and let the sunshine in.