During the summer months, only 15 to 20 minutes in midday sun directly contacting a good portion (about one-third) of your skin should be enough for optimal vitamin D production.
Vitamin D seems to be getting a lot of attention these days and for very good reason. It’s a mystery, really. Scientists have now determined that it’s not even really a vitamin; it’s a hormone. It regulates blood sugar helping to avoid diabetes, prevents some forms of cancer, helps to absorb calcium thereby promoting bone health, and even helps in the fight against COVID-19.
Vitamin D has been shown for decades to reduce the risk of respiratory diseases. Now it seems there is a clear relationship between lower 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels and an increased risk of both getting COVID and being hospitalized from it.
What’s the best way to get sufficient quantities of vitamin D into your body? Ellen White said it best! “Go out into the light and warmth of the glorious sun, you pale and sickly ones, and share with vegetation its life-giving, health-dealing power.”
That’s right! Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin.” During the summer months, only 15 to 20 minutes in midday sun directly contacting a good portion (about one-third) of your skin should be enough for optimal vitamin D production.
But it is not that simple for all of us. Several problems make it difficult to get the vitamin D we need from the sun. First, the entire Lake Union is situated well above a latitude of 35 degrees north, where from mid-September to mid-May the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are not intense enough to trigger vitamin D production. Not only that, 92.4 percent of our time is spent inside buildings or cars and we wear clothes covering most of our skin. Finally, pigmentation slows the process for skin of darker hues
So, the next logical option is for us to get the needed vitamin D from the foods we eat. Again, we have a problem. Many of us avoid fish, like trout or salmon, that are the most concentrated food sources of D. Foods that are fortified with vitamin D are likely our best option as well as mushrooms set in the sun (or sunny window) for a few hours before consuming.
Although in general, nutrition is best found in actual food, in the case of vitamin D supplementation is best. Cod liver oil packs a punch, and vitamin D3 and D2 pills do too. Daily recommended amounts differ from 400 IU up to 10,000 IU, but because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, toxicity is possible, so don’t megadose.
But there’s two more things you need to know. Even once we get usable vitamin D into our bodies, we can reduce our access to it. First, the more fat tissue we have, the less we are able to access the vitamin D stored there. Secondly, and this one is really scary, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) converts the usable form of vitamin D into a form that is not usable. These facts should give us all the more reason to maintain a healthy weight and avoid processed foods
It would be wise to check your vitamin D blood levels, knowing that deficiency, defined as less than 30 nmol/L (12 ng/mL), can be dangerous. For most of us, except during summer months, a daily or at least weekly dose, is a way of working with God to optimize our health!
Joy Kauffman MPH is a public health nutritionist whose passion is to share the FARM STEW recipe for abundant life with the world. To learn the recipe, see www.farmstew.org.