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Vitamin D: Five Need-to-Know Facts About This Vital Vitamin

As winter makes way for spring and sunny days becomes the norm, you’re likely to hear someone say, “I’m getting outside this weekend to catch me some Vitamin D!”

Vital to our health and well-being, Vitamin D is sometimes called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because the skin produces it when exposed to sunlight. And while this can be a good thing, some use this vitamin as an excuse to get more sun than they should.

For most of us, 5-10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure two or three times per week is enough to help our skin make the ‘sunshine vitamin’. Any more sun than that and you increase your risk of skin cancer.

Here are five important facts regarding this vital vitamin.

Fact # 1: Why You Need Vitamin D
The most important function this vitamin serves is regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and facilitating normal immune system function. It may also help keep certain diseases at bay including: multiple sclerosis,
heart disease and even the flu. And research has shown that it may also play a role in regulating mood and lowering the risk of depression.

Fact #2: Vitamin D Inhibitors
A number of lifestyle and environmental factors can prevent your body from making this vitamin through the sun.

Some of those include:
• Pollution
• Too much time indoors
• Living in cold regions where the sun rarely shines
• Living in big cities where buildings block the sunlight
• Having darker skin

Fact #3: Tanning Beds Don’t Help
Unfortunately, the tanning industry has promoted tanning beds as a source for Vitamin D. Most of these beds emit UVA radiation, but it’s actually UVB radiation that is needed for the body to produce it.

So tanning beds don’t help with Vitamin D production and they actually increase your risk of skin cancer.

Fact #4: You Can Get Vitamin D from Other Sources
The sun isn’t the only source of this vitamin. You can also get Vitamin D from the following:
• Orange juice
• Milk
• Yogurt
• Fish including: salmon, sardine and shrimp
• Egg yolks and supplements

Fact # 5: How to Know if You are Vitamin D Deficient
The best way to know whether or not you are getting enough Vitamin D is to have a simple blood test. But if you suffer from any of these symptoms, they may also be an indication of a deficiency:
• Fatigue, aches and pains, and a general sense of not feeling well
• Severe bone or muscle pain
• Weakness
• Stress fractures

Bottom line: Just because your skin can produce Vitamin D, don’t overexposure yourself to the sun’s harmful rays. Follow the guidelines of getting just 5-10 minutes of the sun’s rays 2-3 times per week. And stock up on orange juice, milk, yogurt, fish and eggs to supplement your body’s need for this vitamin.

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