Vitamin D: The "Sunshine Vitamin"
We're about to give you several more reasons to take that mid-afternoon stroll through the park.
Sometimes sunlight is hard to find during the day.
Whether it's winter, you live in a cloudy climate, or you work long hours, it can be difficult to get outside. But did you know that getting enough time in the sun is important for your health?
Vitamin D is crucial for strong bones, mainly because your body needs it to be able to absorb calcium. It's also an important vitamin for maintaining a healthy heart and keeping a strong immune system. What's more, studies suggest that it may help prevent some cancers.
Our bodies produce Vitamin D naturally when sunlight hits our bare skin. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin D for most adults is 600 IU -- to put that in perspective, you could get that from a serving of swordfish.
But the best way for your body to get enough Vitamin D is for it to make it on its own -- which means more time outside.
How much time outside do I need?
Unfortunately, the answer is, "it depends." If you're closer to the equator, the sun will be stronger, so you'll need less time outside. You'll also produce more Vitamin D in the middle of the day, when the sun is higher in the sky, as opposed to sunrise or sunset. It also depends on whether or not you're wearing sunscreen.
There are a ton of factors that influence how much time outside each individual person needs, but you can check out the Vitamin D Council's website to get more information on what is right for you.
What if it's winter?
Unfortunately in winter it's almost impossible for our bodies to produce Vitamin D: the sun is lower in the sky, days are shorter, and we hibernate inside. And when we do venture out, we’re covered from head to toe to keep warm!
This is when it's a good time to look to your diet or supplements.
Vitamin D from Food
Oily fish contains the highest amounts of Vitamin D. Reach for salmon, swordfish, or tuna. They're great on the grill, poached, or flaked over salad.
Eggs for breakfast? Don’t skip the yolk! Think of it like a little edible sun - it’s rich in Vitamin D.
In addition to eggs, fortified milks and juices also make breakfast a great time to boost your Vitamin D intake. You can find them with their regular counterparts in the dairy aisle.
Vitamin D from Supplements
When all else fails, there are some great supplements out there that can help you get the Vitamin D you need. Look for Vitamin D3 -- it's the closest to what our body naturally produces, and the most beneficial.
You can take it in pill form, or you can add a few liquid drops to your morning smoothie. As always, consult your doctor before starting a new supplement so you can discuss how much is best for you.