As you may know, our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun. If you’re very, very careful, you might be able to get most of your vitamin D via sun exposure, as long as you don’t overdo it, since too much sun can lead to skin cancer. Michael Holick, M.D., Ph.D. of Boston University, a leading expert on vitamin D, says the skin is so efficient at making “D” that exposure to the sun in a bathing suit for the amount of sun needed to turn skin red (typically no more than 15-20 minutes on Cape Cod in June or July at noon) is equivalent to taking 20,000 IU of vitamin D orally! Spending 15 to 20 minutes in the sun a few times a week in the summer can bump up your vitamin D levels. But don’t forget to coat yourself with sunscreen after that.
The best food sources of vitamin D are fatty fish, including salmon, tuna and mackerel as well as eggs and some mushrooms. Even if you really like fish, you probably don’t want to eat it every day, but even if you did, you still might not get enough “D”. Fortified foods, including milk and some cereals, provide some “D”, but as you know they’re off limits on the Omni Diet because they do you more harm than good.
Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient. It helps your body absorb calcium from foods and it helps balance blood levels of calcium and phosphate, which promotes bone health. When people don’t get enough vitamin D, their bones can become brittle and thin and can break more easily. Vitamin D, which has anti-inflammatory properties, is also crucial for the health of your cells, muscles, and immune system.
Why am I telling you this now?
The latest news on vitamin D and health is another downer. An international study shows that seniors with very low levels of “D” are at twice the risk of Alzheimer’s disease!
True, the new study isn’t the first to find a link between low levels of vitamin D and Alzheimer’s, but it is a very important one because it is the largest to date, and it confirms the findings of earlier, smaller studies — our brains as well as our bodies are at risk if we don’t get enough vitamin D.
Supplementing with vitamin D now is not guaranteed to prevent dementia later in life, but do you want to take that risk? For overall wellbeing, I recommend everyone take a vitamin D supplement.
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