When there is no sunshine, there is the ‘sunshine’ vitamin! Vitamin D is synthesized by our skin in contact with sunlight. It is a group of fat-soluble prohormones (precursors of hormones) that contribute to the metabolism of calcium and phosphorous and also support the immunity system and help prevent various diseases. In our body Vitamin D is obtained from sun exposure, food or supplements. Vitamin D is produced in the skin after exposure to sun light more precisely the B type of ultraviolet light (UVBs). Our body also procures its Vitamin D from some food sources and supplements.
How much vitamin D do we need?
If your body is not producing enough vitamin D because of the reduced contact with sunlight, caused by living far from the equator, cold season, cloudy days, sunscreen, then it is necessary to get its dose from certain foods and supplements. Children and adults need less than seniors but experts recommend at least 400 International units (IUs) a day for adults and double this amount for seniors.
However, it’s easier for the body to produce vitamin D from brief exposure to sunlight a few times a week, then it is from food. Be aware that excessive exposure to sunlight will not cause an overdose of vitamin D because the excess is degraded. You won’t get a lifetime of vitamin D on the beach; instead you could get sun burns and skin damage that will last for a lifetime. Two sessions of 15 minutes of sunlight each week are enough to help your body produce the right amount of vitamin D.
Other Sources of vitamin D
Without enough sunlight, you can get your necessary vitamin D from foods like salmon, tuna, sardines, beef liver, egg yolks, mushrooms, cheese, and some processed foods with fortified vitamin D like milk of margarine. Supplements should be taken only if the other natural sources are not available and with a doctor’s recommendation.