There’s been a lot of media coverage about vitamin D and the health effects that stem from a vitamin D deficiency. Some sources have even gone so far as to suggest that you go without sunscreen to increase your exposure to sunlight, a primary source of vitamin D.
Why is vitamin D so important? Studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency can elevate the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancer. Deficiencies can also affect adversely affect blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. There is also evidence to suggest ties to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes and even multiple sclerosis.
While it’s true that modern society doesn’t get the same exposure to sunlight that our ancestors did, this news doesn’t justify the idea of going out sunscreen-free and baking on the beach, like the cast of Jersey Shore. Sunscreen is still a necessity.
Even Dr. Michael Holick, expert and author of The Vitamin D Solution, suggests that proper unprotected sun exposure would be limited to 5-10 minutes per day, two to three times per week in the summer months. Since you’re not likely to be slathered head to toe in sunscreen during a regular day at the office, you could easily meet that requirement by walking from the office to the coffee shop, or taking a brief outdoor break at lunchtime.
But remember that sun exposure is not your only option; many foods are supplemented with vitamin D, not to mention your average everyday multivitamin. Most milk and cereal is fortified with vitamin D, as are many varieties of orange juice. Wild-caught oily fish — like canned tuna, mackerel, bluefish and salmon — are a great source of naturally occurring D.
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