Did you know that vitamin D is essential to your health? Don’t worry if you didn’t – many people don’t know about the importance of vitamin D, because it’s something that doctors seldom talk about. Yet you should take stock of your vitamin D levels because many people are deficient in this vital vitamin. A vitamin D deficiency can have serious effects on your health and well-being.
Vitamin D is important because it protects your body from many different ailments. Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels can protect you from osteoporosis, arthritis, asthma, prostate cancer, heart disease and even eczema. Vitamin D deficiency can cause clinical depression and puts you at high risk for the illnesses above.
Many people don’t even realize that the depression and lethargy that they feel is due to a vitamin D deficiency. Instead they treat the symptoms – when in fact what most people need is a healthy dose of vitamin D. If you suffer from seasonal depression during the winter months then you should defiantly have your vitamin D levels assessed.
As you can see maintaining your vitamin D levels is essential. Unfortunately a lot of controversy exists around how to boost your vitamin D levels.
Why? Because the best known source of vitamin D is sunlight. That’s right. Your body uses sunlight to convert vitamin A into vitamin D.
Which is why many people exposes themselves to the sun to try and up their vitamin D levels. The problem is, while exposure to sunlight may be a great source of vitamin D, it also causes melanoma – skin cancer.
There are some doctors who will recommend sun exposure to increase your vitamin D levels, but other doctors who maintain that the sun exposure is too dangerous – because of the risk of skin cancer that comes with it.
According to experts from the Cancer Council Australia (one of the sunniest countries in the world) two out of three Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetimes, and roughly 2000 Australians die from skin cancer every year. They also warn us that having a tan is a sign that your skin has already been damaged.
So what should you do? You want the benefits of Vitamin D, but by exposing yourself to the sun you are risking skin cancer instead.
How to get enough Vitamin D without risking Skin Cancer
Limit your Daily Sun Exposure
In summer time you are probably getting enough vitamin D just by walking around in your daily activities. If you really spend all day indoors then you should try to get some sun exposure in the early morning or late afternoon / evening, when the sun is not too strong.
In winter time, or colder climates, you can go out into the sun during the middle of the day for up to 15 minutes a day. That’s all you need for your vitamin D boost. Then you should return indoors, cover yourself up with a hat and protective clothing, and apply a good zinc sunscreen to any areas still exposed to the sun.
Check the UV index in the Weather Report
The weather report will always tell you what the expected UV index is in your area for the day. The UV index is measured on a scale from one to ten. Here is what you should do at the different levels on the UV index:
- UV Index of One to Two: Danger to your skin is fairly low. If it’s bright you should wear sunglasses and if you are very fair (you burn easily) you should always wear a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or more.
- UV Index of three to five: There is moderate danger to your skin under these conditions. You should stay out of direct sunlight during the heat of the day. If you are in the sun, make sure to wear protective clothing, a hat and sun glasses. Use an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen on any exposed skin.
- UV Index of six to seven: This is means there is a high risk of serious skin damage if you are exposed to the sun. You should protect both your skin and your eyes. Stay out of the sun between 10:00AM and 4:00PM if you possibly can. If you have to be outside, make sure you wear SPF 30 sunscreen or higher, a wide hat, sun glasses and protective clothing. Remember that swimming may cool you down but it doesn’t protect you from the sun. Reapply your sunscreen every two hours.
- UV Index of eight to ten: These are extremely high risk conditions. Take extra care or you will burn quickly. Stay out of the sun between 10:00AM and 4:00PM, wear sunscreen, protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses.
- UV Index of eleven or more: Extreme Risk. Stay out of the sun. Use all of the precautions laid out above, but try to stay out of the sun instead.
- Sun Rules to Remember: Bright surfaces like sand, snow and water increase your UV exposure because they reflect the sun’s UV light. Take extra precautions under these conditions.
If your shadow is taller than you, as it is in the early morning and late afternoon, your UV exposure is lower. If your shadow is shorter than you, as it is at midday, your UV risk is higher.
Natural Alternative Sources of Vitamin D
Instead of exposing yourself to the harmful rays of the sun for your vitamin D boost, you can eat foods that are rich in vitamin D. Here are some great sources of vitamin D that are really healthy and delicious:
Maitake mushrooms, Portabella mushrooms, Chanterelle mushrooms, egg yolk,fortified Almond milk, fortified orange juice, fortified yogurt – both the soy and the cow’s milk varieties, and Swiss cheese. You can also buy vitamin D fortified milk.
Of these foods, Mushrooms and Egg Yolk provide the highest levels of vitamin D. By eating these two things regularly you can ensure that you are getting plenty of vitamin D without having to be exposed to direct sunlight.
Vitamin D Supplements
If none of the foods above appeal to you, or maybe you are still worried about your Vitamin D levels in spite of eating vitamin D rich foods, then you can always take a good supplement. It’s better to supplement your diet than allow yourself to become deficient in such an essential mineral.
Lastly, medicinal mushrooms contain a form of a vitamin D precursor that can be transformed into usable vitamin D! Go to the next page and learn more about medicinal mushrooms that are rich in vitamin D precursor and helps boost your immune system.