30 minutes of daily sun exposure is the best way to prevent Vit. D deficiency - and this doesn't mean you have to walk around in a tiny little bikini. You can get enough by just having your hands and face exposed. The problem is, nowadays so many people are afraid of the sun and skin cancer (a reasonable fear) that they lather every inch of their body in SPF 100 (OK, maybe not 100 but pretty darn close to it). I will get back to my thoughts on skin cancer in a bit. I want to discuss some of the uses that Vitamin D has in the body and the symptoms of deficiency.
The most severe effects of metabolic loss of Vitamin D are Rickets in children and Osteomalacia in adults. Dental caries, muscle cramps, nervousness and insomnia may also be linked to Vitamin D deficiency. For years, Rickets was a disease that was virtually unheard of in the Western world; however, it seems that it's making a comeback!
Some other possible signs of deficiency are muscle weakness; pain in the ribs, spine, legs; muscle cramps; nearsightedness; and burning in the mouth and throat.
Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine" vitamin because it is actually manufactured in the human skin when it contact with the ultraviolet light in the sun's rays. Wintertime, clouds, smog and darkly pigmented skin reduce the body's production of the "sunshine" vitamin. Vitamin D has two primary functions - it increases calcium absorption and phosphorus in the intestinal tract and regulates calcification and mineralization of the bones (that's why it's a good idea to take Vit. D with Calcium since it helps the body absorb the Calcium).
Well, the best way to get your Vitamin D (and the cheapest!) is by going outside. However, during the winter and for those who live in the Northern U.S. and in Canada it may be a good idea to supplement. During the winter I take a fish oil with Vitamin D (my recommendation would be to NOT exceed 1,000 IU of Vit. D per day. During the summer, I take a fish oil that doesn't have Vit. D added to it). Some food sources include cod lier oil, egg yolks, liver and fish.
Now, back to my thoughts about skin cancer (and this is just my opinion). Has anyone noticed that it seems to be increasing in prevalence these last few decades? I have two thoughts on this. First, check the ingredients in your suntan lotion - are there a lot of words that you can barely pronounce? Do some of them end in "paraben"? There are so many chemicals in many suntan lotions and I don't think that helps when it comes to preventing cancer. Of course, there are some GREAT natural suntan lotions out there too (which my family uses). Check the ingredients!
My second thought is this. The North American diet does not include many of the antioxidants (such as Vit. A, E, C, selenium, etc.) that help to protect the skin from burning in the first place. Did you know that a diet high in antioxidants is the best way to prevent sunburns in the first place? God, in His infinite wisdom, knew what He was doing when He created all of the great fruits and vegetables that are FULL of antioxidants.
Take care, enjoy your week and try to get enough Vitamin D!!