Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, helps to regulate calcium levels in the body and is therefore important for bone health. Recently, vitamin D has attracted scientists’ attention for its potential role in the prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease. But did you know that your vitamin D levels could also give insight into your risk of developing a cold or the flu?
If you found yourself fighting off virus after virus this winter season, you may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement, or spending some time in the sun – safely, that is. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that those taking vitamin D on a daily or weekly basis were less likely to develop an acute respiratory tract infection. Those with vitamin D deficiency, characterized by blood levels of less than 25nmol/L, benefited the most from upping their vitamin D intake.¹
Vitamin D can be obtained in the diet, or synthesized in the skin upon exposure to UVB rays from the sun. However, even those with well-balanced diets can find it hard to avoid vitamin D deficiency. While sun exposure should not be your only source of vitamin D, it is a main source for many. The amount of vitamin D that we can make from sun exposure depends on skin type, age, location, time of year, and of course, duration of sun exposure.
As always, overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. If you choose to expose your skin to the sun to obtain vitamin D, use Sun Index to make sure you’re doing so safely. The Sun Index device will tell you how long you can stay in the sun before developing a sunburn.
- Martineau, A. R., Jolliffe, D. A., Hooper, R. L., Greenberg, L., Aloia, J. F., Bergman, P., Dubnov-Raz, G., Esposito, S., Ganmaa, D., Ginde, A. A., Goodall, E. C., Grant, C. C., Griffiths, C. J., Janssens, W., Laaksi, I., Manaseki-Holland, S., Mauger, D., Murdoch, D. R., Neale, R., Rees, J. R., Simpson, S. Jr., Stelmach, I., Trilok Kumar, G., Urashima, M., and Camargo, C. A. Jr. (2017). Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ 2017;356:i6583. Retrieved on February 19, 2017