Short Winter Days and Vitamin D

Short Winter Days and Vitamin D

There has been a recent, exciting explosion of knowledge surrounding Vitamin D. It had been thought that the function of Vitamin D was largely related to maintaining healthy bones; however, new research indicates that Vitamin D helps control important areas of multiple body systems. A deficiency in Vitamin D has been linked to:

  • Increased rates of cancer involving the breast, ovary, colon,  pancreas, prostate, and lymph system.
  • Increased rates of diabetes, multiple sclerosis, asthma, hypertension, and other important medical conditions.

In the past, most Vitamin D came from exposure to sunlight; however, due to increase use of sunscreen and a decrease in outdoor activity many, if not most, people are Vitamin D deficient. There are a few foods that contain significant amounts of Vitamin D such as fatty fishes like salmon, while fortified foods and milk products contribute only a small amount. In contrast, 10 minutes of sun exposure on the arms and legs provides about five times the amount of Vitamin D as a serving of salmon. In Colorado, nearly 35% of healthy adults, 50% of children, over 50% of post-menopausal women, and the majority of seniors are deficient in Vitamin D.

The optimal daily dose of vitamin D is at least 800-1000 IU's of Vitamin D3 daily. It is important to check the type of Vitamin D that is being taken, since Vitamin D2 is not as active as D3. Make certain to account for the Vitamin D from all daily sources since it may be added to such products as calcium supplements and various joint health products, in addition to the 400 IU's typically found in a multivitamin.

Remember, skiing for the day with only the tip of your nose showing between your gaiter and your goggles doesn't count as adequate sun exposure!

To learn more, visit Your Health Guide on our website today!

Ken Cohen, MD, F.A.C.P.
Evergreen Internal Medicine
Chief Medical Officer 

Posted in Health Information and Tips