Summer Sun & Vitamin D
In this time of social distancing, when everything seems to be on hold, nature's cycles are still playing out. The flowers are still blooming, warmth fills the air, and the days are luxuriously long. We may be spending more time inside, but nature hasn't paused, and more time indoors means less exposure to the summertime sun, an important factor in our body's ability to produce Vitamin D.
Vitamin D strengthens immunity, affects mood, and helps the body process calcium. D deficiency, on the other hand, is linked to weakened immunity, malformed/brittle bones, osteoporosis and depression, a greater risk of heart disease, and increased risk of colon cancer. A recent study from Northwestern University compiled statistics from 10 countries and discovered that countries with very low D levels were more vulnerable to mortality from COVID-19 than countries with higher D rates.
So, in the interest of staying healthy, enjoy a little summer sun or the proper supplements. Check out the various options below...
Sun Exposure and D
Depending on your skin, it can take 15 minutes to a couple of hours to create D naturally. Sun penetrates lighter skins faster and can cause burns. So always be mindful of skin wellness; the sun's UV rays can contribute to skin cancer and premature aging, and collagen breakdown; so wear appropriate sunscreen, coupled with an antioxidant for proper protection. And avoid times of day when the sun is strongest, according to the American Skin Association, sun is the most powerful between 10 am - 4:00 pm.
D & Diet
Foods such as high fat fish, like salmon, mackerel and sardines, are great natural sources of D. Also eggs and fortified foods, such as orange juice, almond, and cow's milk; practice caution with fortified foods though, as they have additional additives that are unhealthy. According to Dr. Lukyanovsky “If you are at home, like we are now, your best bet is to get the most out of your diet and even supplementing. The best dietary sources are egg yolks, fatty fish and seafood and mushrooms.” It's tricker for vegetarians and vegans since most sources, with the exception of mushrooms, are not plant-based. To significantly boost the content of D in mushrooms, place them in sunlight, the UV rays will cause D to be absorbed into the fungi; and depending on the type of mushroom, some will produce more D than others. For details, read Lovable Mushrooms from our blog.
D3 is found in animal sources and D2 is usually plant-based. Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, bestselling author of "Crohn's and Colitis Fix" and “Digestive Reset,” says “I only recommend vitamin D3 since the studies support this preference and within a decade of my practice, I have seen a difference in my clinical experience.”
So how much D is needed daily? According to the Mayo Clinic the recommended daily dose for adults 1-70 is 600 International Units, and 800 IU's for those over 70. If you decide to take supplements, check for drug interactions and dosage with your doctor for safety. Dr. Lukyanovsky says,“I hardly recommend doses over 5,000 IU daily for many reasons. Doses that are much higher will increase the risk of hypercalcemia and liver issues.”
*Before taking supplements always check with your doctor.
Be sure to balance your healthy diet with vitamin D foods or a supplement. Dr. Lukyanovsky says, “The best way to supplement is to have a professional grade natural vitamin D3 source with an additional K1 and K2 for best possible absorption.” Additionally, look for “sufficient levels of Magnesium and Calcium.” And just because you are inside more, doesn't mean you can't experience the summer. Open your windows, sip some turmeric lemonade, grow indoor flowers, and invent new ways to feel nature's lushness. And when you do go outside, savor each moment, committing its beauty to everlasting memory.