Baby oil-check, tin foil-check, double album cover-check. As a teenager, this was the routine that my friends and I engaged in before heading out to bask out in the sun. In our continuous quest to become bronzed beauties, each summer we would religiously slather ourselves in baby oil and harness the suns spectacular rays with our reflective Led Zeppelin album covers. For many of my melanin enhanced friends this resulted in a beautiful San tropes tan. But not for me.
Each year I would go through my ritual of burn, blister and peel (repeat) in order to acquire my “base tan”. Well into my 20s I subjected myself with annual bouts of sun poisoning, causing untold damage for years to come.
Eventually I smartened up and began protecting myself from the harmful effects of the sun. For the past 25 years I have been diligently applying sunblock and avoiding sun exposure for fear of cancer and wrinkles. Unfortunately, I had unknowingly subjected myself to a different issue-Vitamin D deficiency. I am not alone.
Due to lack of daily sun exposure and/or liberal use of sunscreen, vitamin D deficiency affects over 50% of the population. This is a big problem because deficiency has been linked to:
Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease
Depression, Insomnia, Seasonal Sadness
Autoimmune disease, Joint pain, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Osteoporosis
How do you know if you are deficient? The only way to know for sure is to get a blood test (25 OH vitamin D). Typical recommendations are to aim for levels over 30ng/ml but not more than 80ng/ml. It is recommended that you get it tested every 3 months.
GET YOUR DAILY DOSE OF D
Sunshine is the best way to get vitamin D. You should strive to get 20 to 30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure per day (without burning). It is recommended that you do so in the morning hours. Those with darker skin tones need longer sun exposure to absorb vitamin D.
You can also get Vitamin D through some foods. These include herring, free range eggs, blue fin tuna, trout, wild salmon, eel, mackerel, sardines, beef liver and pork.
If regular sun exposure is not an option, or if the above foods don’t float your boat, supplementation is in order.
Vitamin D3 is the form that is most bio-available (meaning your body absorbs it).
Vitamin K2 is co-factor to vitamin D and should be taken at the same time. Vitamin K2 (MK-7), along with vitamin D, helps to shuttle calcium to your bones and teeth (and keeps it out of your arteries, kidneys and other soft tissues). Some brands combine both vitamin D and vitamin K2 into one supplement.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and should be taken with healthy fats. The best vitamin D supplements are in capsule form and blended with olive oil. You can also take cod liver oil.
Work with your doctor or practitioner to take the correct dosage.
These days I have come to a compromise with the sun. Whenever possible I go for a long walk (sans sunscreen) to get my daily dose of D. I also make sure that I do not burn and take measures to protect myself for the rest of the day. But since I live in Michigan, I do supplement with vitamin D/K2 when sunshine is lacking (which is a lot).
So, get outside, enjoy some sunshine, and be sure to get your levels tested soon!