With all the media attention to the dangers of UV ray exposure in the past two decades, people are avoiding even small amounts of sun exposure. Of course, with the hectic lives that many of us lead now, many people simply don’t have time to be out enjoying the sunshine as they would have in past times.
Most of us are aware now that UV rays can contribute to premature aging and skin cancer, but many are unaware of the side effect that seems to be rising from the anti-sun crusade: widespread deficiencies in vitamin D.
Severe vitamin D deficiencies can lead to major problems with bones. Vitamin D acts as a catalyst that helps maintain proper levels of both calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Both of these minerals are vital to strong, healthy bone tissue.
This isn’t the only thing that vitamin D affects in the body, either. Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiencies can lead to depression, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and diabetes. Is it any wonder that our rates of diabetes keep rising along with the craze to stay out of the sun? Seems rather a big coincidence.
Most vitamins and minerals have a standard recommended amount but that isn’t how vitamin D is measured. Instead, it is based on adequate intake value – the amount needed to maintain healthy bones.
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Like anything else, this amount has changed through the years as more is discovered about the vitamin and how it works in our bodies. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled the recommended intake for children, from 200 IUs to 400 IUs.
The major hindrance to coming up with accurate recommendations is that scientists have still not discovered all the ways that vitamin D works within the body and since genetics play a role, the optimal amount is likely to vary from person to person.
Since there are few food sources for vitamin D, most of us will get our vitamin D from the sun or through vitamin D enriched foods. However, many studies have shown that our bodies do not absorb vitamins added into foods as well as the natural versions.
The consensus among the medical community seems to be that if you think you might be deficient in vitamin D then take a supplement as it won’t hurt anything. Since anything up to 2,000 IUs daily has been shown to be safe, a supplement could be the case of better safe than sorry.