Vitamin D, sometimes called “the sunshine vitamin”, is produced in the skin in response to sunlight. It is a fat soluble vitamin that is accompanied by a bevy of benefits including facilitating the immune system, promoting healthy neuro-muscular functions, regulating the absorption of calcium, promoting strong bones and teeth, and increasing resistance to certain diseases such as osteoporosis, osteomalacia, heart disease, and even certain forms of cancer.
Vitamin D has also been proven to increase serotonin [the mood neurotransmitter] levels in the brain. Hence it’s other nickname… “the happy pill”. Fall may mean less sun exposure which can be great for our skin, but detrimental to our mood. In fact, vitamin D and light therapy are often recommended to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka SAD. If you are feeling a little low with the change in season make sure you are getting an adequate amount of vitamin D.
Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. Just 10 minutes a day should supply a sufficient amount of this vitamin. Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a place where they can see the sun shine everyday. Not to fear. Many foods contain vitamin D including salmon, eggs, milk, yogurt, and even fortified orange juice.
Alternatively, you can introduce a vitamin D supplement into your health regimen if you feel you are lacking. 600 IU [international units] is the standard dosing recommendation according to the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. People over the age of 50 may choose to increase their dose to 800 in order to maintain strong and healthy bones.
All in all, good old fashioned sun light is a wonderful way to get your daily dose of D. If you are looking for a triple threat, sunshine + foods high in vitamin D + taking a vitamin D supplement should ensure that you are meeting your body’s needs.