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sun exposure and vitamin d
With flu season in full effect, I thought I would share some of the benefits of vitamin D, an important immune system booster, among other things. Keeping your vitamin D at the recommended levels, can help ward off the flu! Great news when the flu is lingering every where! But, winter time tends to cause our vitamin D stores to get depleted, unless you live in a climate that allows for more sunlight year round. Talk to your doctor to get testing and advice on getting your levels in a healthy range.
Before I go too much further, I think I need to clarify that vitamin D is actually a pro-hormone, not a vitamin, because our bodies are able to produce it through the skins exposure to sunlight. A fair skinned person can produce up 20,000 IU of vitamin D with only 20 minutes of sun exposure. Sensible exposure of 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per week, should keep your levels adequate. Sunlight converts cholesterol on the skin into vitamin D3, which is then converted in vitamin D by the kidneys. Vitamin D can only be stored by the body for 2 weeks, so if sensible sun exposure is not available, supplementation during winter months might be necessary. Once again, talk to your doctor for help determining this.
Here is a quick list of a few of the possible health effects associated with healthy levels of vitamin D:
- Vitamin D aids in the regulation of calcium levels in the blood. You need to maintain both healthy vitamin D and calcium levels to keep your bones strong.
- As stated before, if you keep your vitamin D levels adequate you can greatly reduce your chances of contracting the flu.
- Studies suggest that vitamin D is extremely important in regulating cell growth and cell-to-cell communication. Keeping healthy vitamin D levels can reduce cancer progression by slowing the cell growth. Healthy cells, healthy body.
- Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels has been thought to lower ones risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- To avoid preclampsia, a cesarean section, or bacterial vaginosis, it is recommended that pregnant women keep adequate vitamin D levels. Your doctor must assist you in maintaining a healthy level. If the levels get too high, there could be health risks to the baby. Always use doctor supervision when pregnant.
So how can we supplement vitamin D levels, if adequate sunlight isn’t available year round? Let’s see:
- Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon: 1,360 IU
- Herring, fresh, raw, 4 ounces: 1,056 IU
- Swordfish, cooked, 4 ounces: 941 IU
- Raw maitake mushrooms, 1 cup: 786 IU
- Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 4 ounces: 596 IU
- Sardines, canned, 4 ounces: 336 IU
- Fortified skim milk, 1 cup: 120 IU
- Tuna, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces: 68 IU
- Egg, chicken, whole large: 44 IU
Talk to your doctor and get blood work done if you feel your sun exposure might not be optimal. Keeping your vitamin D levels at the recommended levels has great health benefits.