Here Comes the Sunshine!
Isn’t it nice to know that just sitting outside on a beautiful sunny day is good for your health? That’s right – your skin is soaking up the sunshine that it needs to make Vitamin D, a vitamin essential to the body’s health.
Vitamin D is important because it regulates the minerals calcium and phosphorus in your body. It also plays a role in maintaining bone health by helping your body absorb calcium. There is also evidence that older people who are deficient in vitamin D are more at risk for falls.
Exposing your face, arms and legs and hands to the sun for about 15 minutes 2-3 times a week provides enough sunlight for most people’s needs; just be sure that this is true skin exposure and not blocked with sunscreen or clothing. Excess vitamin D is stored in body fat until needed, giving the body a respite in times of cold weather or lack of sun exposure.
The needed daily intake of vitamin D is 600 IU per day from foods, and up to 1000 IU each day if you aren’t getting enough sunlight.
Interestingly, there are not a lot of foods that are natural sources of vitamin D: fatty fish like salmon, sardines and tuna, as well as other seafood like oysters and shrimp; egg yolks, cheese and mushrooms are your best bets. Milk is fortified with vitamin D to provide and provides an additional 100 IU per cup. Depending on your diet and lifestyle, dietary supplements may be needed to help meet vitamin D intake goals.