While I’m “relaxing” in the shade at Arrow Lakes and taking in a little sun, I thought it would be a good idea to write an article about the latest surge for people to take Vitamin D. Vitamin D is made by our bodies when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Because it is a fat soluble vitamin, It is then stored in the liver for use when needed. It is used to keep our bones strong. I test all my patients for mineral and vitamin deficiencies and I actually don’t find many of my patients deficient in Vitamin D, so, why is it suggested that everyone take it? I believe I have a selective patient group—my patients get outside and are typically acitve throughout the year, so, therefore get some sun exposure.
When we get sun , it is important that we try to absorb sunlight in the less intense parts of the day from 6AM – 10AM & from 3PM – dusk. This allows the natural melanin produced by the liver to build up slowly, so, the skin is more resilient to the sun and therefore prevents sunburn. After enough sun, which is different for each person depending on their skin type, it is always best to have a light long sleeved shirt and pants to put on and a hat. This minimizes the amount of sunscreen you need to use. This will minimize the amount of chemicals your body will be absorbing from the sunscreen which has been found to be toxic for the liver. Using too much sunscreen not only minimizes your ability to make Vitamin D, but, it forces the liver to detoxify chemicals. This decreases it’s ability to keep the blood sugar stable, balance hormones and regulate other vitamins, such as Vitamin E/A & K. Vitamin A repairs skin tissue and helps to protect the skin from damage. Therefore, it’ so essential to keep that liver unloaded!
Sunlight, by hitting the back of the retina helps produce serotonin. This is so essential in our part of the world, since serotonin is what creates that sense of well-being/happiness. One of the most prescribed medications are SSRI’s such as Prozac. They force serotonin to stay in your system longer, therefore help with higher serotonin levels, which increases drive/motivation and happiness. So, why not produce your own?
So, I recommend that people take Vitamin D if they are deficient at a typical dosage of 400IU to start in a liquid form, since it is fat soluable. I then encourage the person to get a little sun exposure with activity and re-check their levels. Often the levels come up to normal and they just take it when they need to, and for most folks, that is in the winter when we have less sun exposure.