Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is well recognized for its importance in bone health and is currently being studied for its role in a variety of other important health conditions.
So how can you maximize the benefits when the sun is out?
Getting outside for a walk during a time of the day when the sun is strongest (around 10 am to 3 pm) is one of the best ways to achieve this. For many people, this can simply mean a lunchtime walk on a sunny day – grab a work buddy or two and head out. Making a point of these outings is especially important for those of you who do your most of your physical activity in a gym setting in the absence of sunlight.
Wearing sunscreen is an important practice for skin cancer prevention, but it also blocks synthesis of vitamin D. Unless you’ve been prescribed to avoid sun exposure, try and take advantage of light to moderate exposure on sunny days in the spring by foregoing application of sunscreen in some instances.
Aside from sun exposure, the other obvious component of vitamin D adequacy is dietary intake or supplementation. What you may not have known about vitamin D is that it is only found or fortified into very few foods. If you don’t eat these foods, it will be very difficult for you to get enough vitamin D in your diet.
Here are three dietary steps you can take to boost your vitamin D intake:
1) Have either 2 whole eggs or 75 grams of fish a day (sardines, mackerel, tuna, salmon)
2) Drink a glass of milk or soy milk a day
3) Spread 1 tbsp of margarine on your toast or potatoes
If you do not consume the foods above, consider adding vitamin D supplementation either via a daily teaspoon of cod liver oil or an oral pill. This is especially important for people who avoid the sun or are unable to receive adequate sun exposure for other reasons.
For the rest of you out there, I hope you take the opportunity to boost your vitamin D status and overall health.
Andy DeSantis, RD MPH