Especially in the summer, we should remember some facts when it comes to our body and building its vitamin D so that we can reduce deficiency.
Are UVB-rays sufficient? Shadow-Cast Rule Of Thumb
Thanks to the sun's rays our body is able to build vitamin D. Our body uses the UVB rays and forms Vitamin D in our skin cells from Cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol) which is supplied from our liver.
Thanks to sunlight, our body can produce the vitamin itself. In winter, the chance of sun exposure and building our own vitamin D is less; the lower the sun on the horizon, the less UVB is present in the solar spectrum.
The rule of thumb is the longer the shadow compared to your body length the less chance of synthesising vitamin D. And this rule applies to the summer month as well.
What are good levels of vitamin D and when to talk about a deficiency?
The normal dosage recommended for Vitamin D supplementation per day is 400-1000 IU. As of March 2021, Health Canada has increased the daily dose of vitamin d to 2500 IU. One reason might be that home officing and social isolation as well as quarantines have affected the amount of time we are spending outside and our ability to even synthesise the Vitamin D ourselves.
We would need a blood test to be certain about the vitamin D levels we either have absorbed through nutrition or built through sun exposure. If there is a Vitamin D deficiency suspected, your healthcare practitioner will send a blood test to the lab for confirmation.
The blood levels are tested for the 25-Hydroxyvitamin-D, or calcidiol, levels. Vitamin D passes many paths before it can be used in our body. One of them is its transformation from vitamin D, built in the skin, to the 25-hydroxy vitamin in the liver. This form of vitamin D is the best indicator to be monitored and show if you are deficient or at a good level of vitamin D.
A supplementation in the form of tablets, capsules or drops is the best if you show deficiency. And you should rethink your lifestyle and nutrition as well.
Of course, we all know that a healthy lifestyle and diet always comes into play when dealing with vitamin supplementation. Other important supplements to add to your healthy lifestyle are vitamin b and antioxidants. This helps promote a healthy immune system and energy production levels.
For instance, vitamins and minerals play an important role in our body production. Even though all your B’s play an important role for example, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folic acid (folate) and biotin to help support bodily functions.
Your vitamin b12 is a great target for your metabolism. This is a water soluble vitamin that helps keep your body's blood and nerve cells healthy. Natural ways to gain a high dose of vitamins would be to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Meaning circling back to the importance of a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Beta carotene converts in vitamin A that is beneficial for good vision, strong immune system, healthy skin, and mucus membrane. If not gaining this from your healthy foods such as, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli adding a beta carotene supplement to your healthy lifestyle diet would increase your intake levels.
What you wear and where you are during the day affects your Vitamin D synthesis!
A lot of factors affect the Vitamin D synthesis in your body even during the summer. And one of the major factors in our lifestyle. Canada is already affected with dark and cold days in the year, and unless you are an avid winter athlete, then chances are you don’t get much sun.
During summertime, and because of the heat, we usually are more inside than outside. So another factor, which reduces our UVB exposure. When we see the sunlight, we are either covered with sunscreen or clothes we wear. And so we should, as exposure to UV for longer periods are extremely dangerous for our skin. But while we are protecting our skin, we are reducing Vitamin D synthesis.
Does Sunscreen prevent Vitamin D Synthesis?
A commonly asked question is the connection between sunscreen and Vitamin D, especially in summer. Does Sunscreen prevent vitamin D synthesis? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding yes!
Sunscreen is practically a must and a healthy method to help reduce sunburns but has the unfortunate and involuntary side effect of reducing Vitamin D synthesis. Any SPF factor above 15 reduces the synthesis and anything above SPF 20 ends up practically with no synthesis.
Also to remember, for a productive Vitamin D synthesis the sun needs to be above 50 degrees. That’s what kick starts the synthesis in our skin cells- another reason why the sunshine during the winter months is less effective for our vitamin D.
Age is another factor affecting our Vitamin D levels. As we age our cells are less capable of building the Vit. D; something we see in the correlation between Vit. D levels and a higher chance of osteoporosis as we age.
Vitamin D & Diet
A complete Vitamin D coverage through diet is not possible. There are some food sources which help with our Vitamin D levels. But they are not enough to help us maintain healthy levels, as you would be needing to eat them constantly, such as liver, cod liver oil and egg yolk.
We can agree that about 20% of our Vitamin D levels can be covered through nutrition, provided you have food sources helping with the Vit. D levels.
The food industry has recognized the importance of certain vitamins in our diet and has been enriching some foods, such as milk and juices with allowable dosages, Vitamin A, E and yes, Vitamin D. These groups of vitamins are fat-soluble and need a fatty substance to be recognized and absorbed by our body. When thinking about supplementing with these vitamins you would need oil to be accompanied with it to have it absorbed.
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