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Vitamin D is a must-do for health

Jul 9th, 2012
Zoƫ Sophos

Woman exercises outdoors || Photo credit: Wikimedia CommonsSummer is in full swing, with beaches, barbeques and ball games galore. It’s time for outdoor exercise as well, with visors hats and sunglasses providing much needed relief from summer’s direct heat. It may be better, however, to soak up some sun rather than hide from the heat completely, as getting some sunshine is an easy way to ensure your body has a much-needed supply of Vitamin D.

According to the National Institute of Health, Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is crucial for bone growth, working to prevent osteoporosis and rickets. It also helps with cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function and reduction of inflammation.

Some fatty fish like swordfish and salmon provide 100% of an individual’s daily value of Vitamin D in one serving, but few other foods provide adequate amounts. In some countries, including the U.S. and Canada, all dairy milk is fortified with the vitamin. In fact, milk and other fortified foods are responsible for the majority of Vitamin D in the American diet. Still, a major way to get this crucial supplement, according the NIH, is through exposure to sunlight.

The NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements states that when ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation penetrates the skin, it stimulates the body to begin producing its own Vitamin D. Complete cloud cover reduces UV energy by half, shade reduces it by nearly two thirds and sunblock with an SPF of 8 or higher blocks Vitamin D-producing UV rays completely. Researchers suggest getting five to 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10am and 3pm at least twice a week, without sunscreen. Limited use of tanning beds that emit 2% to 6% UVB radiation will also lead to adequate Vitamin D synthesis.