Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vitamin D: Here Comes The Sun!

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I've picked up a few nicknames in my time, most of them related to sun exposure. 'Big Red' and 'Lobster' were just a few of my favorite. One fateful day during my freshman year at Georgia, I fell asleep on the hill outside my dorm. What began as 15 minutes of innocent shut eye (quite possibly to avoid a study session) turned into a 2 hour (completely accidental) power nap on the quad in the sunshine, sans sunscreen.

When I woke up, I was aflame. I literally looked like a fire hydrant.

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The truth is... I'm pale. No matter how much I fantasize each summer season about having a tan, it isn't going to happen. Hell, I lived in Costa Rica for months and barely had a tan line. It's just my cross to bear.

But that won't keep me from enjoying my time in the sunshine (responsibly, of course)! In fact, we ALL should! With a little sunscreen slathered on for safe-keeping, you can get yourself some good old fashioned 'Vitamin D Therapy' on a sunny spring day.

Your body needs vitamin D for many reasons. The sunshine vitamin helps your body absorb calcium, which in turn keeps your bones and joints strong. But most importantly, vitamin D bolsters your immune system, keeping you healthy. Multiple studies have also pointed to the potential of vitamin D in preventing certain types of cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

It's important to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D each day, especially throughout the colder months, because vitamin D deficiency can cause issues in and of itself, including high blood pressure, severe asthma in young children and cognitive impairment in older adults.

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It only takes a little sun exposure each day to get your daily recommended amount the natural way, but if you live in a colder climate (or can't be in the sun as much as you'd like), supplementation is your next best option. I take anywhere between 1000-2000 IU of vitamin D3 per day. Many doctors, including Dr. Mark Hyman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, recommend this amount for daily maintenance. If you have a deficiency, you will most likely need more (as always, consult your physician if you are unsure of your particular needs).

And while it may seem easier to just drink a glass of vitamin D-fortified milk for your daily requirement, think again. According to Dr. Hyman, you would have to drink almost 20 glasses of milk a day to get the amount of vitamin D that your body requires each day.


Milk, step aside!

Sunburns, be damned!

Who wants to catch some rays with me? It's finally warming up in the city!

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