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home : health : health July 22, 2018

11/7/2017 12:46:00 PM
Fleeting sunlight
By Andrew Loscutoff

This past weekend, America underwent its return to standard time, eschewing daylight saving for more light in the morning - and less light in the evenings.

Many of us are going to work in the darkness and returning home without seeing the sun.

Times are tough for those who enjoy activity in the light, who feel a jolt of energy from being in the sun. It's not only psychological; Vitamin D plays a big role in our health, and during the dark months in the Northern Hemisphere many are deficient.

Vitamin D affects every organ system of the body.

Vitamin D actually doesn't behave like other vitamins and minerals. Inside our body, vitamin D is synthesized as a hormone. It is important that it is direct sun-to-skin exposure that does the trick - not exposure through a window, and not through clothes.

The actions of Vitamin D play a role in a variety of systems.

Low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with: decreased muscle mass in aging people; increase cancer risks; lowered immune function; high blood pressure; neurological dysfunction; diabetes. Many are not getting the required dosage, especially during the dark days of winter. According to Precision Nutrition, anyone living above the latitude of Atlanta, Georgia, will receive little to no Vitamin D from November to March.

The sun gives off rays of UV-B light, which, once it hits hairless bare skin is converted to Vitamin D in our bodies. All the Vitamin D we need we can get in around 15 minutes of exposure. However, in the winter months, the axis of the earth does not allow for nearly the required intensity of rays.

It is estimated that up to 80 percent of Americans will be deficient at one time or another. What is striking about this statistic is that it follows the general recommendations, which are set not for optimal health but mere survival.

Other considerations are age and obesity. Aging reduces the ability to synthesize Vitamin D and obesity can trap Vitamin D because of its fat solubility - making someone potentially require twice the usual level.

Our body can store serum Vitamin D for around two weeks, but once it's gone more is required. Unless someone is taking a vacation to warm climes, food or supplementation is the next best bet. Foods like mushrooms, fish, and liver do contain Vitamin D, but it is hard to get enough from these sources.

A gel cap of 2,000 IUs of Vitamin D daily is recommended by Precision Nutrition, and many other organizations, from November through February for those living at Sisters' latitude.

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