As Dr. Mike Ren, an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, put it, vitamin D's role in keeping bones healthy is well known. On the other hand, it also has a major effect on our digestive systems and hearts. Winter makes it harder to get enough vitamin D because sunlight is essential for absorbing the nutrient and turning it into something our bodies can use.
"Having the sun high in the sky, as opposed to at sunrise or sunset, is essential for your body to absorb sunlight and obtain vitamin D. ".
Ren clarified that while vitamin D can be found in seafood and fatty fish by nature, other foods do not typically contain it. Because of this, people frequently do not consume enough vitamin D through their diet.
As a result, it is crucial for most people to spend time outside in the sun, even during extremely cold weather.
According to Ren, an adult needs 800 international units of vitamin D per day, which is the same as 15 to 30 minutes of exposure to direct sunlight, according to a press release from Baylor University. "You don't have to wear a swimsuit to enjoy the sun. You can be dressed in regular clothes and still get enough exposure by allowing the sun to shine on your face or hands. It's important to seek sun exposure when the sunlight is at its strongest, during the peak hours, and avoid sunrise or sunset."
Should this not be possible and you wind up staying inside most of the day, Ren advises thinking about taking a nonprescription vitamin D supplement.
He recommended going over the recommended daily dosage of 800 international units of supplements since your body doesn't absorb them all. As a result, he suggested that you start with 5,000 international units. It's a complementary product that you can safely eat. Should there be a small excess, your body will get rid of it on its own. ".
Making sure that you are getting enough vitamin D can be more challenging for some people.
Ren said that people who have weight-loss surgery often have a decrease in their ability to absorb vitamin D, which could mean that they need more supplements than people in general. He advised people who suffer from kidney, liver, or cystic fibrosis and have trouble absorbing nutrients to check their vitamin D levels and consider taking extra supplements.
How important is vitamin D to your general health?
Ren claims that vitamin D, also known as the "sunshine vitamin," is essential for the absorption of calcium and for maintaining the health of bones. On the other hand, new studies have linked vitamin D to both heart health and a lower risk of cancer.
"He said that more and more studies are emphasizing how important vitamin D is for preserving healthy muscle function, which includes the heart's continuous beating, and lowering the risk of getting different types of cancer. ". Since these studies have just recently been completed, I would rather not overstate their importance, but on the other hand, I also don't want people to minimize them and say they are unimportant. ".