Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is needed for maintaining strong bones, immune function, cancer prevention, and cognitive health. Calcium, vital for bone health and preventing them from becoming misshapen and broken, can only be absorbed in the presence of vitamin D. If adults do not have enough calcium, they can develop osteoporosis; children can develop rickets.
Vitamin D is one that is produced by the body. When ultraviolet-B rays from the sun penetrate the skin, a cholesterol substance is converted into a precursor of vitamin D. It then travels through the liver and the kidneys and is converted into the form that the body needs, vitamin D.
Factors That Affects Vitamin D Synthesis:
- Time of Day & Pigmentation of Skin:
- The best time of day for UVB absorption is between 10 AM and 3 PM. 10 to 30 minutes in the sun while exposing your arms, legs,or back usually leads to sufficient vitamin D production. The amount of time you need in the sun depends on the amount of melanin present in your skin. The more melanin you have, the darker your skin will be. Since melanin reduces the skin’s ability to create vitamin D, fairer people need less time in the sun than do darker people.
- Season & Latitude
- Two more factors that affect vitamin D production are the season and latitude. Above 37° North, you do not get sufficient UVB between the months of November and March. The same thing is true if you are below 37° South.
- Cloud Cover, Smog, and Pollution
- They stop UVB from reaching the surface of the Earth
- It decreases the skin’s UVB absorption
Vitamin D Is Found In:
- Egg yolks
- Flesh of fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and much more
- Beef Liver
- Some mushrooms that are grown while exposed to direct sunlight or ultraviolet light
- Fortified foods
Since you cannot always naturally get vitamin D, you should take supplements. There are two kinds available in the market. Vitamin D2 is created by irradiating yeasts and other molds. Vitamin D3, which is the kind that humans make, is produced by irradiating animal oils and cholesterols. Though the human body can convert most D2s into D3, it is preferable to directly take vitamin D3. For example, I use liquid vitamin D3 drops created from lanolin; lanolin is a cholesterol found in sheep. Since vitamin D disrupts the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, you should not take it at night. The best time to take vitamin D supplements is in the morning and with food. Experts recommend vitamin D levels to be above 50 ng/mL, so keep that in mind when you get it checked.
So, remember that UVB absorption and vitamin D synthesis depends on the time of day, skin color, latitude, season, cloud cover, smog, pollution, and sunscreen. If you cannot get enough vitamin D through food or sun exposure, you should take supplements.
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