Vitamin D has some amazing health benefits for both our physical and mental wellbeing. It’s been found to improve our immune system, protect against cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure as well as treat depression and improve memory.
Vitamin D not truly a vitamin but actually a pre-hormone our bodies naturally produce when we’re outside in sunlight. It’s usually recommended that you stay outside 20 minutes at a time two times a week to keep your vitamin D levels at a healthy range. However some surprising studies have shown that up to 90% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Here are the 4 primary reasons you may be vitamin D deficient.
1. Skin Color
Humans evolved with different skin tones based on the amount of sun our ancestors were exposed to. Those from northern regions evolved with lighter skin to make use of the limited sunlight more effectively. People will darker skin need up to one hour of sun exposure each day to allow adequate vitamin D production.
If you wear sunscreen while you’re outside you body won’t be able to produce very much vitamin D. Consider going without sunscreen for brief periods to allow your body to absorb enough sunlight.
It can take up to two days for your skin to completely absorb the vitamin D produced from sunlight. The majority of the vitamin D formation occurs within a few hours of exposure to avoid bathing for at least that amount of time. Showering too will actually wash the vitamin D right down the drain.
4. UV Index
Only when the UV index is above 3 are there enough UVB waves to produce vitamin D in adequate amounts. All sorts of factors affect the UV index including time of day, clouds, pollution, altitude, and season. Before stepping outside to get your sunlight, check the UV index in your area. A good way to check the UV index is at weather.com or with various mobile apps.
Vitamin D deficiency manifests itself with a variety of symptoms. Some of these symptoms include low energy, depression, sleep trouble, and mood swings. The only way to be certain of vitamin D deficiency is through blood tests. If you find yourself vitamin D deficient and you’re unable to get enough sunlight naturally then you should add vitamin D3 supplements to your diet in order to get the needed amounts.