Happy Autumn Equinox!! It is the moment when the plane of the Earth’s equator passes through the center of the sun’s disk. It is one of two annual days, where the amount of daytime & nighttime aren approximately equal. Summer is officially over, and sun will be soon retiring for winter. With summer ending, and fall starting, now is a great time to check your vitamin D stores to make sure you are prepared for winter.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which is responsible in many different bodily processes. It is most well known for its role working with calcium to help build and maintain strong bones. Vitamin D is also involved in regulating the immune system and cells, where it can help prevent cancer.
The body stores vitamin D and can also make it when the skin is exposed to sunlight. There are also dietary sources of vitamin D, like milk, which is fortified along with cereals, as well as fatty fish like salmon & tuna and mushrooms. There are two forms of vitamin D ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Research suggests that cholecalciferol, D3, is better at raising blood levels of vitamin D.
In adults, many people may not be getting enough vitamin D, especially those who live in northern areas and the elderly. In Oregon & Washington, this is true. People with dark skin do not absorb sunlight as easily as those with light skin, so their risk of low vitamin D is even higher.
A fair-skinned individual may only need 45 minutes of sunlight a week to meet their vitamin D needs, whereas a dark-skinned individual may need up to 3 hours to get the same benefit. Clouds, smog, clothing, sunscreen & window glass all reduce the amount of sunlight that penetrates the skin.
Research has shown that low levels of vitamin D may be linked to other disorders including breast and colon cancer, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, depression, and obesity. It is observed that people with higher levels of vitamin D are less likely to get these diseases.
It is recommended that vitamin D be tested twice yearly, once before spring begins and at the end of summer. Deficiency to vitamin D are levels less than 30 ng/mL; however optimal levels are 50-80 ng/mL.Read More