The Sunshine Vitamin: Are you getting enough?

By on April 7, 2011 under Nutrition, Osteoporosis/Bone Health, Sunshine

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, once linked to only bone diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis is now recognized as a major player in total overall health. Although called a “vitamin”, this important element of health is actually a potent hormone that affects over 2,000 genes and at least 36 organs of the body. We get most of our Vitamin D from sunshine and a smaller amount from foods such as fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products.

We have been trained to either stay out of the sun or cover ourselves with clothing and/or sunscreen. This fear of the sun combined with our spending more time indoors in front of the electronics, has contributed to a widespread deficiency of this essential hormone, even in sunny Florida. And even those who spend uncovered time in the sun can be deficient because as we age, our skin is not as efficient at converting sunshine into vitamin D.

So why is this deficiency important? Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a myriad of common diseases including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis,  Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis,  migraines, and more.

So how do you know if you are deficient? You can have your Vitamin D level checked with a simple blood test. Why not just take mega-doses of Vitamin D? Unlike water-soluble vitamins whose excessive amounts can be excreted in the urine, excessive intake of fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin D can increase to toxic levels. If you are not going to have your level checked, I recommend taking Vitamin D3 2,000 IU daily.