Vitamin D is no substitute for missed sunshine

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While it is tempting, and partly a cultural tradition to hide from the sun, especially at the height of the summer, a better option than adding vitamins to the diet might be to encourage some time every day outside.

Vitamin D is one of the most important ingredients to a healthy life. Without it, your immune system suffers, your bones become brittle, your blood pressure rises and you are more prone to develop cancer. In these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that a country such as Jordan might decide to fortify its domestic flour with the vitamin in a bid to boost the health of the nation. Other good sources include milk, fish and eggs, but they can be expensive, difficult to digest or hard to keep fresh.

But there is an equally good source of vitamin D that is freely available to everyone. And in the Middle East, it is present for more than 300 days a year. Ninety per cent of a person’s daily requirement comes from sunshine. While it is tempting, and partly a cultural tradition to hide from the sun, especially at the height of the summer, a better option than adding vitamins to the diet might be to encourage some time every day outside. Nobody was designed to live indoors indefinitely: bask in the sunlight and stay healthy.

Traditional thinking was that vitamin D was mainly necessary for bone health.  Recent studies have shown that vitamin D performs a multitude of other functions in the human body. It may also be tied to cancer prevention, cardiovascular health and a potential connection with gum disease.

Three major sources of vitamin D exist – sunshine, foods and supplements. It might take only a few minutes of sun exposure every day to create enough vitamin D. There’s considerable controversy as to whether most people should take a vitamin D supplement at all. Most of the vitamin D in our bodies is made by our skin, when it is exposed to sunlight. In contrast to most other vitamins, we don’t get much vitamin D in our diet. Authorities recommend, however, that children from age 1, and adults through age 70, take 600 international units (IU) daily, and that adults 71 years and older take 800 IU daily.

 

 

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