Magazine article Work & Family Life

We All Need More of the Sunshine Vitamin

Magazine article Work & Family Life

We All Need More of the Sunshine Vitamin

Article excerpt

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, an essential nutrient, which is why it's so important. But if you're like most Americans, you are not getting enough vitamin D, especially during the winter months.

The recommended daily value is 600 IUs for people from 1 to 70 and 800 for people over 70.

Follow the sun

Here's how it works. Ultraviolet (UVB) rays from the sun penetrate uncovered skin and convert a compound in the skin into what eventually becomes vitamin D.

The skin's ability to make vitamin D depends on many variables. Almost everyone in the U.S. could get enough natural sunlight during the summer months. But by December, except for Florida and a few pockets in the Southwest, that's no longer the case.

Other factors that apply include altitude, the amount of cloud cover and time of day. Sunlight makes less vitamin D when it comes in through a window or you're wearing a hat or sunscreen. Lighter skinned people also tend to get more UVB rays from sunlight than darker skinned people.

Vitamin D from food

Most foods, other than fatty fish like tuna, salmon and mackerel, are not naturally rich in vitamin D. But many foods such as dairy products, cereals and orange juice are fortified with vitamin D. …

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