Soak up the sun to get daily dose of Vitamin D

Soak up the sun to get daily dose of Vitamin D

Molly Westbrook, Correspondent

During this time of the year, especially in Northeastern Pennsylvania, people are not able to soak up as much sun as they would like. Many people wonder how it’s possible to take in enough vitamin D when the sun does not shine as often and brightly as during the summer months.

Vitamin D is an important component in bone health, tooth health, and immunity. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, and transports it into bones and teeth to keep them strong. Without Vitamin D, a body can’t absorb calcium and starts to pull the calcium needed from bones, weakening them. According to Harvard Medical School, an adult should strive to consume 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

 With Vitamin D also being referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” people can often be misled to believe that the sun is the only source for the vitamin. Vitamin D is not found as abundantly in food sources as other vitamins, but there are a few categories of food that contain it.

Amy Tomasko, professor in the nutrition and dietetics department said that people should supplement when they can. “Because the body does not get as much sunlight exposure during the winter months, it is wise to up your consumption of vitamin D-rich foods,” said Tomasko.

Tomasko suggested seafood such as fish and shrimp as tasty sources of Vitamin D. Fishes such as salmon and mackerel contain about 350 IU of Vitamin D, while tuna contains about 200 IU. Oysters also contain a significant amount. For those who don’t enjoy seafood, other sources are also available including mushrooms, salami, and egg yolks.

Some food products are also fortified in Vitamin D. Tomasko mentions milk, soy milk, and tofu products, while other options include: orange juice, cereals, yogurts, and cheese. Several companies that manufacture the food products mentioned are now fortifying them with Vitamin D. However, to ensure that the item contains it for certain, buyers should always refer to the vitamin and mineral section on the nutrition facts panel.

Vitamin D is also available as a supplement. Kiera Logue, nutrition and dietetics major, said she decided to take a supplement because during the summer she works inside all day and gets very little sun exposure.

“It’s important to supplement what you can’t get from your diet because without all the necessary nutrients your body can’t function properly,” said Logue.

Vitamin deficiencies can often have serious health complications.

One way to soak up more Vitamin D is with physical activity, especially outdoors when the weather permits. During the winter months, skiing is also an option to get some sun exposure.

According to Harvard Medical School, “10 to 15 minutes of sun on the arms and legs a few times a week can generate nearly all the Vitamin D we need.” Combining this information with a recommended half hour of physical activity daily by the government, anyone can easily ‘kill two birds with one stone’ and reach their daily Vitamin D and physical activity needs.