Got sun? As humans, our connection to the sun is strong. It keeps us warm, brightens our mood, and is an essential part to growing the plants that will become our food. There is another truly amazing connection we have to the sun: Our bodies can make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to it. But are you getting enough of that vitamin D?
This question is especially important in the winter months when days are shorter and sunshine is harder to come by. The amount of vitamin D you make from the sun can also vary depending on factors like cloud cover, air pollution, how much of your skin is exposed to the sun, skin pigment and whether you are wearing sunscreen.
Vitamin D is vital in building and maintaining strong bones. Without it your body can't absorb the calcium in food. Emerging research suggests that vitamin D also may be important in keeping your immune system healthy while too little vitamin D intake has been linked to bone loss, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
The Institute of Medicine recommends children and adults up to age 70 get 600 IUs (international units) of vitamin D per day. Adults older than 70 should get 800 IUs per day. Boost your vitamin D intake with these healthy choices:
— Robert Summerford, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.
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