ICYMI: At About Face Skin Care, we collectively are #HYUUUGE advocates of sun protection. Sunscreen, hats, parasols, SPF-50 clothing, shades, you name it — if it can keep the sun off our skin, we’re all about it.
This is great as far as our skin goes; minimal UVA / UVB exposure greatly decreases the risk of skin cancer, sun damage, and premature aging. (Yay for healthy and pretty skin!)
Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?
Despite the sun’s immense ability to harm the surface of our skin, it is vital to the functioning of everything underneath the skin. Scientific data shows that almost every cell and tissue in our body has need for Vitamin D!
So… what happens when your body does not get enough Vitamin D?
Your body reacts to a Vitamin D deficiency in many ways, but a lack of Vitamin D most often manifests itself as Fatigue and Depression. (This goes hand-in-hand with Seasonal Affective Disorder. During the Winter months when the days are shorter and the night is longer, it is common for people to experience depression due to their lack of Vitamin D from sun exposure.)
D-ifferent than other Vitamins
Vitamin D is in a class by itself, “behaving more like a hormone,” explains integrative medicine expert Dr. Frank Lipman.
“It’s necessary for numerous cellular functions, and when the body does not have what it needs to function optimally, it follows that we experience a decline in health.”
Furthermore, according to Dr. Lipman, almost everyone is Vitamin D deficient. (Or at least, 80% of his patients are.) Does this help explain the general malaise and fatigue so many of us experience on a daily basis?
Herbal experts say YES, and swear that one of the most important health-changes you can make in the Winter is monitoring your Vitamin D intake.
For sunscreen-freaks like us?
This means we are perpetually Vitamin D deprived — even in the height of summer. And chronically tired. (And depressed?)
For normal people, like you?
Managing your sun exposure properly can be tricky, under the best of circumstances.
During the Summer, you want to treat sun exposure like a medicine, and only allow yourself the lowest dose necessary. (Because skin-cancer, premature aging, etc.) Most people only need 15 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight in order to get the necessary amount of Vitamin D, however this amount of time may need adjustment if your skin is extremely fair or extremely dark.
Winter is a trickier time of year, the colder temperatures obviously make it less tolerable for 15-30 minutes of skin exposure a day.
Fortunately, there is an easy solution for both SPF-philes like us and normal people like you — to safely maintain the appropriate levels of Vitamin D — despite the season.
Two words: Dietary. Supplements.
Herbal specialists recommend taking about 5,0000 IU of Vitamin D daily for maximum results.
Getting your necessary dose of Vitamin D through a dietary supplement is fine to do throughout the year, or only during the months as needed. (Thorne Research Vitamin D/K2 Liquid, $24 is a great option.)
Vitamin D is found in certain foods, but it’s hard to get the adequate amount from your diet alone.
In order to optimize your Vitamin digestion, you should try to always take your Vitamin D supplement with a meal that contains fat. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so by eating things like Avocado, fish or nuts, your body will be better able to absorb the nutrients.
Foods that contain Vitamin D
- Fatty Fish: Salmon, Trout, Mackerel, Tuna, and Eel (Sushi counts!)
- Mushrooms: This can be a good alternative for vegans or vegetarians.
- Eggs: The Vitamin D in an egg is mostly in the yolk. (One yolk will give you about 40 IUs.)
- Milk: Just about all kinds of Milk are fortified with Vitamin D. (On average, an 8 oz. glass of milk contains at least 100 IUs of vitamin D, and a 6 oz. yogurt contains 80.)
Can you get too much Vitamin D?
From direct sunlight alone, it is impossible to get too much Vitamin D. Your brilliant body has built-in mechanisms to self-regulate its Vitamin D intake and only generate what your body needs.
Although it is very rare, it is possible to overdose with Vitamin D supplements. If you are taking 5,000 IU or more daily, you should have your blood levels monitored approximately every 3-months.