Oh yes, another cloudy morning here in Seattle. And yes I did just look at the calendar to make sure it was actually July 1st and I wasn’t just starting to lose my mind! But what got me thinking about these clouds and no sun was my vitamin D levels. Uh oh! Lets talk about that shall we?
Did you know vitamin D is actually a hormone? Yes, you did read that correctly. Vitamins are organic substances you get from your diet; vitamin D is produced by your body! Vitamin D is synthesized when you are exposed to UVB radiation from the sun. Depending on your skin color and how much melanin you have will determine just how much sun exposure you need. Lately it has been cloudy here in the morning and then sun starts coming out in the late afternoon. The UV index has to be 3 or greater to make adequate amounts of vitamin D. Yesterdays UV index at 4pm was 6 which means I can get out into the sun for about 15-20 minutes to get enough vitamin D for my skin tone. And thats great news if you work in an office all day because you can still get outdoors after work and get what you need! Hey…that is motivation to get off the couch and turn the tv off huh??? The darker your skin, the more melanin you have which means you have a natural sunscreen built in. So in that case, you need to stay in the sun for about 30 minutes at that index level. So if the index level is higher, less time in the sun…index level lower, more time in the sun. (Intellicast.com is the website I go to for index levels) But after those minutes are up, put on the wide brimmed hat and sunscreen please!
Did you know our bodies are very smart and they know when to hold’em and when to fold’em basically (ahhh cheers to you Kenny Rogers) meaning that during the summer months when we do get a lot of sun exposure, our bodies will synthesize it and use what it needs but also will pack it and store it for the winter months when there isn’t so much sun to be had. Does that make sense? Its like saving your pennies for a rainy day! But remember, you must be outdoors in the sun, you can’t get these UVB rays through a window.
So then just how much vitamin D do you need? Vitamin D is fat-soluble. One size doesn’t fit all here folks! The bigger you are, the more you need. The RDA level currently is 200 IU. There was talk about that being increased to 2000 IU a day. I haven’t seen the FDA change it yet but I personally take 2000 IU’s a day. I believe the most important thing to do is get your levels checked by a doctor to see just how much you need. It’s scary though because a lot of people are really low and don’t know it. In fact, Gwyneth Paltrow recently got a bone scan due to a tibial fracture she incurred and found out she was extremely low and was diagnosed with osteopenia, which if not fixed turns into osteoporosis. Here is a list of symptoms and diseases that have been associated with a vitamin D deficiency:
- Joint pain and/or swelling
- Muscle pain, cramping, and/or weakness
- Chronic pain
- Uncontrolled weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Restless sleep
- Poor concentration and memory
- Bowel problems (constipation, diarrhea, or both)
- Bladder problems (urgency, frequency, or both)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Gum disease and tooth loss
- Heart disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
I hope this info is helpful to you! I get a lot of my knowledge and info from school at Bastyr University, but also from a great book called “The Vitamin D Cure” by James Dowd.
Eat to nourish~