When it comes to sun exposure there are often differing opinions. Colder seasons like winter and spring are particularly challenging as most people don’t realise that the sun is still strong enough to get sunburnt. This leads to people are getting sun exposure without being particularly careful to put on sunscreen protection. Then there are others who know that whether its winter or summer, getting too much sun can lead to skin cancer, and so they avoid it completely.
But do you know that sunlight is beneficial to bone health? Just by getting enough sun exposure, your body produces Vitamin D, a very essential nutrient that helps in maintaining healthy bones and muscles. So, if you think you are the type who avoids the sun for whatever reason, then there is a big chance that you are at risk of developing Vitamin D deficiency.
What is Vitamin D and what does it do to the body?
According to //ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/#h1 “Vitamin D is a nutrient found in some foods that is needed for health and to maintain strong bones.” It helps the body to absorb calcium – a main building block of bones. Those who do not get enough Vitamin D are at risk of developing soft, thin and brittle bones.
Aside from its function to aid the proper development of bones, it also helps the body in many other ways.
Since Vitamin D is present in cells throughout the body, it helps in various ways:
1) it helps the muscles to move,
2) the nerves to carry messages between the brain and every part of the body, 3) it is also needed by the immune system to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. And together with calcium, it is especially beneficial for older adults so they can get protected from developing osteoporosis.
How much Vitamin D do you need and are you getting enough?
Depending on your age, your need for Vitamin D each day also varies. But on average, even just a short exposure of sunlight on your arms and legs each day is beneficial to your body.
Aside from sunlight, what are the other sources of Vitamin D?
Food sources as well as supplements are great ways to get additional Vitamin D. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are you best choices. Then there is beef liver, cheese and egg yolks as other good food sources. Some products are also fortified with Vitamin D; such as breakfast cereals, orange juice, yoghurt, margarine as well as soy drinks. But you must check the labels to ensure Vitamin D is there.
Supplements that are made with either Vitamin D2 ergocalciferol and D3 cholecalciferol help in increasing vitamin D in the blood.