The Sunlight & Vitamin D dilemma
Vitamin D is a natural nutrient that supports cognitive function and helps prevent bone loss. We get it three ways – through the foods we eat, taking vitamin D supplements, and via sunlight exposure. However, time and time again we are warned to avoid being in the sun. So, what’s recommended?
Because the American diet typically yields less than 300 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day, nutrition experts encourage average size portions of the following ‘vitamin D foods’ as dietary options:
- Fatty Fish (salmon, mackerel, trout) = 384-716 IU
- Portobello Mushrooms = 316 IU
- Fortified Milk = 128 IU
- Yogurt = 80-120 IU
- Fortified Cereal and/or Orange Juice = 100 IU
- Pork = 88 IU
- Eggs = 44 IU
Some health professionals also suggest vitamin D supplements to achieve the daily recommended intake of 600 IU (international units) for most adults, and 800 IU for people 70 or older.
Also know that “our bodies create vitamin D naturally by converting the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun into this hormone.” (That’s right, it’s a hormone and not a ‘traditional’ vitamin.) And while over exposure to sunlight, i.e. sunburning, is certainly a legitimate concern, it is also important to recognize that “sunlight is often more of a friend than a foe.”
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, writing in the medical journal JAMA, “concluded there is little benefit for doctors to advise people over 24 to completely avoid the sun, unless they have fair skin or a family history of melanoma.” The key to it all is simply this:
Be sensible, and ALWAYS use SUNSCREEN!
Information source: “The Vitamin D Conundrum,” by Sara Vigneri, AARP The Magazine / Real Possibilities