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Are You Getting Your Vitamin D?

Spending time outdoors has a number of health benefits, including vitamin D absorption

On May 8th, Dr. Laura McCauley gave a presentation at Amplatz Pediatric Grand Rounds on the role of vitamin D in lung disease, and that got us thinking about what other roles this vitamin might play in our health. With summer on its way in, Minnesotans and out-of-staters alike are flocking to the outdoors, anxious to stretch their legs and soak up the sun after a long winter. And as the sun starts to peek out and the temperatures begin to rise, we’ll all benefit from another added bonus – vitamin D absorption. According to the Mayo Clinic website, as little as 10 minute of sun exposure is thought to be enough to prevent deficiencies. Your bones will thank you for your consciousness to get enough of this vitamin – deficiencies can cause your bones to become thin, brittle or misshapen.

While there are multiple forms of vitamin D, two are important to our health – D2, or ergocalciferol, and D3, or cholecalciferol. D3 can be absorbed by the skin when exposed to sunlight, but if you can’t get outside to absorb vitamin D, you can also find both in a number of dietary sources. Fish, eggs, fortified milk and cod liver oil all contain vitamin D – or you can find it in supplement form.

What good does vitamin D consumption do? There are many benefits of maintaining an adequate level of vitamin D. A few of the benefits, according to Medical News Today, include:

  • Crucial for absorption of calcium and phosphorous, which will assist in the maintenance of health bones
  • Regulation of the immune system
  • Has been shown to reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women
  • Can reduce the severity of frequency of asthma symptoms
  • People with adequate levels of vitamin D may have a lower risk of developing cancer, hypertension, osteoporosis, and several autoimmune diseases compared to those with lower levels.

So whether it’s going for a walk, eating breakfast on the porch, or blowing bubbles with your kiddo, find ways to get 10 minutes of sunshine into your day. Not only will you get your daily dose of vitamin D, but your body and mind will enjoy the fresh air! What are you going to do to get outside this weekend?

Originally published: May 24, 2013