In a previous article, we talked about just how much we are what we eat, right down to the blade of grass getting the right amount of sunlight to provide food for the cow that eats it, which we then consume, or the lettuce leaf that we eat more directly. The biodiversity of our food comes from the soil under that sunshine, so the quality of our food is inextricably linked with the land it comes from.
In this article, we simply ask, what if ensuring you get the right amount of vitamin D could be as simple as a good amount of sunshine when you can get it and eating food in season, which is technically food that’s been in the sun (& what’s eaten what’s eaten what’s been in the sun!). It is for most of the year, in most places!
Vitamin D has long been considered an essential nutrient for us. But recent research indicates that suboptimal vitamin D status is wide spread, particularly in the northern United States, and this could be having a significant impact on our health.
One of the best ways to get adequate vitamin D is through appropriate exposure to sunlight. Unfortunately, particularly in Northern latitudes, this is often difficult. The ability to produce vitamin D from sun exposure varies with geographical location, skin pigmentation, percentage of body fat, and age.
We should get some exposure to the sun every day that it is possible and contrary to what we’ve heard we should not use sunscreen, we should never expose our skin to the point of burning. The pain and inflammation of sun burn is our bodies’ way of saying “get out of the sun” and we should respect that. Having said that, if we are going to be overexposed for our pigment type, in actuality, it is certainly better to use sunscreen than to burn.
If vitamin D not produced in the skin as a result of appropriate exposure to UVB radiation then it must be ingested either from food or supplements. Although, obviously we would prefer to get our vitamin D from whole foods, this to can be problematic.
Cherries are in season! it’s ok to cook everything you can possibly think of using them, right?
Industrialized milk, commercial baby formulas, and many processed cereals are fortified with vitamin D2. However, the form of vitamin D produced in the skin and found in whole foods is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferal). Fortified foods and some supplements contain vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Vitamin D2 is manufactured by irradiating fungi and although useful, is less efficiently converted into the biologically active form of vitamin D (calcitriol). Cod liver oil is a rich source of vitamin D3, containing 1,360 IU’s per tablespoon. For many of us this could be a useful supplemental source if we do not object to the taste and have the ability to properly digest fats. It is important to use only sources that have been tested for contamination, particularly mercury. Most of the professional grade supplement manufactures have a vitamin D3 supplement. To ensure efficient uptake, emulsified products should be also be a consideration.
Eating fresh food from farmers’ markets will ensure that you’re eating what’s been in the sun (& what’s eaten what’s eaten what’s in the sun!). The perfect dose of vitamin D!
One final suggestion is to take off your sunglasses for a few minutes each time you are outside in the sun. Sunshine which penetrates the eye without the filtering of sunglasses is beneficial to health also and has been linked to strengthening of the adrenal glands. Since adrenal fatigue is something that most people suffer from these days (note our caffeine and sugar addicted society), anything that improves the functioning of the adrenal glands means to an improvement in overall health.
Read on Part 2, how not having the back up to support eating in season could mean seasonal allergies have a reasoning behind them; they’re not just a seasonal nuisance!