Most of us in this country are vitamin D deficient, and a dash for a week or two in the Caribbean isn’t the answer, sadly.
We all know that vitamin D is made in the body when we get direct sunlight. We are also bombarded by sunscreen manufacturers to protect ourselves and the kids from “too much sun” but what is too much sun?
Dependent on age, skin type, and commonsense, it is if you are in strong sunshine for long enough to start burning. (starting to go a bit red is the signal to cover up or come indoors)
So the sensible thing to do is protect the children in long sleeves and sunhats, when they are out for long play days, but keep them out of the strongest rays from late morning til early afternoon. For adults, probably the worst thing you can do is actually sunbathe for extended periods, smothered in chemical creams which are absorbed into your blood stream.
Best for all of us is to spend periods in direct sunlight without sunscreens, for long enough each day to build a very gentle gradual natural tan, and to start the process of replenishing vitamin D in the body.
We really need to do this all year round ideally, but that’s not so easy in northern countries.
Best advice though, is to strip off, (mostly!) in a sheltered corner even in colder months, when there is an hour or two of direct sun. Sounds a bit extreme? Well, its something you could choose to do to keep your vitamin D levels up, protect your bones and teeth, offer some protection from several kinds of cancer and get a bit less dependent on central heating and stuffy winter rooms. You can always come in for a warm up shower. Or keep warm outside by getting on your rebounder or a ball game with the family. The fact is the deficiency is worrisome, throughout the population, and while we all want to have healthy teeth and bones, we have recently seen rickets in city children; something we thought had disappeared about the same time as child chimney sweeps.
As we age, we manufacture vitamin D less efficiently, and many people now take supplements. If you decide to take some daily vitamin D, choose a liquid preparation, and find one which is combined with vitamin K2.
The combination of D and K2 may also help by slowing the development of plaque in the arteries.
We can’t get vitamin D from food, but we can get vitamin K from Natto (a Japanese fermentation product from soy).. not everyone will take to the taste of the real thing, but natto extracts are available.
Most people will settle for a combined supplement of liquid vitamin D and K2 combined, as its very easy to add a few drops to everyone’s breakfast bowl daily.
Its especially important for children, older folk, pregnant women and people with some intestinal absorption problems.