Believe it or not, many Americans are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. However, there is a catch. We are recommended to get natural sunlight, but we also risk damaging the skin during the process. You can see where the dilemma now comes in when it comes to the sunshine vitamin. There is a way we can have both, and without the guilt.

Research showed that teens and adults in the U.S. are missing vitamin D. There was little interest in the role that the vitamin played until recently. Scientific American shared the Journal of the American Medical Association’s findings: “Vitamin D deficiency were rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, which were greatly reduced by the fortification of foods with vitamin D. Recently, there has been intense interest in the role of vitamin D in a variety of non-skeletal medical conditions. Indeed, vitamin D insufficiency has been associated with increases in cardiovascular disease and cancer.” More studies like the one from JAMA have been conducted over the years and has shown the importance of vitamin D. Research is showing the as a nation people are not receiving enough of vitamin D. Hispanics and African Americans were found to be the most deficient. People, who are obese, have hypertension, and poor health in general were lacking in the vitamin. Associated with bone health, a lack of vitamin D can cause kidney disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.

The Vitamin D Council, a nonprofit advocacy group, shared who is at risk for a vitamin D deficiency. You can’t get the right amount needed for the body from just foods. We need the sun's help. As a country we are less active and spend more time indoors, leading to little sun time, and exposure to nature’s vitamin. “Your body is usually able to get all the vitamin D it needs if you regularly expose enough bare skin to the sun. However, many people don’t get enough sunlight because they spend a lot of time inside and because they use sunscreen. It’s also difficult for some people to get enough vitamin D from the sun during the winter,” the organization explained. How do you know if you are lacking vitamin D? Your doctor can give you a test to check your 25 (OH) D levels. The most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. A level of 20 nano-grams/milliliter to 50 ng/ml is considered adequate for healthy people. A level less than 12 ng/ml indicates vitamin D deficiency,” WebMD said.

We know that we need the sun, but how much, and at what price? People can go to extremes and believe that they need to sunbathe every day, not true. Like with anything we need to be balanced and use common sense. If our lives are hectic it hard to receive enough sunlight, and we need to take supplements. Everyday Health reported we need "600 International Units, and the recommended vitamin D intake for those ages 1 to 70 years old with the upper toxic levels is at 4,000 IU.” How much sun can we get without overexposure to the sun? “It's difficult to quantify how much since skin pigmentation affects how much radiation your skin absorbs: The darker the skin, the more it's protected against skin cancer but the less able it is to absorb UV-B rays,” U.S. News offered. “It also depends on how much skin is exposed and the time of day. If you're fair skinned and sunning yourself outside in a bathing suit at noon, you only need a few minutes without sunscreen. If you're already tan or of Hispanic origin, you need maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Black skin may require six times the sun exposure to make the same vitamin D levels as a very fair-skinned person, but we need more research on this because the studies that have suggested this have been small.”

What can vitamin D do for you? Besides getting some sun, eat foods that are rich in this department. Fish, nuts, soy, leafy greens, mushrooms, eggs, cheese, and milk will help. When you get enough vitamin D it helps to normalize blood calcium and soften muscles that cramp up. When calcium is available to the muscles, menstrual cramps lessen. It also can protect the lining of your blood vessels, and can reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke. Make vitamin D part of your daily routine, WebMD, continued. “If you want to lower your blood pressure, vitamin D may be just what the doctor ordered. If you're trying to reduce your risk of diabetes, or lower your chances of heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, or multiple sclerosis, then vitamin D should be at the front of the line in your daily supplement regimen.”

We can’t live without vitamin D, and the experts concur. Author Gabriel Cousens of There is a Cure for Diabetes chimed in on this as well as others. "Research shows that vitamin D has a variety of important benefits besides lowering blood sugar. It seems to protect against eighteen different kinds of cancers, has a significant positive impact on the immune system in fighting colds and flu’s, viruses, and protects against osteoporosis.” We also should address sunscreen as well. Watch how much sunscreen that is being used as this not only has chemicals, but prevents the body from taking advantage of nature. The ingredients in the sunscreen could be worse than the sun, itself, Dr. Josh Axe said. “A recent study published in Environmental Science Technology has also shown the common sunscreen ingredients oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, and PABA are estrogenic chemicals linked to cancer. That’s right, I read the labels on not only my food products, but on anything I’m putting on or near my body, and you should too. If your sunscreen contains any of these chemicals I’d throw it away right now!” The takeaway here is use common sense, do your research, and get outdoors. Use the tools at your disposal like hats and cover up when you can for added protection from over exposure. Additionally, take a supplement if you feel you are low on vitamin D, or see a doctor. You can have the best of both worlds for your skin and overall health.

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