Get That Summer Glow By Boosting Vitamin D
The secret to a youthfully vibrant life may just lie in the sun-kissed goodness of Vitamin D. As we embrace the long, sunny days of summer, let's discover the lesser-known secret of boosting our 'sunshine vitamin' - vitamin D - via supplements for energized and fortified health. Dive in as we explore the ins and outs of optimizing your vitamin D, and why getting sunshine might not be enough.
While it is true that your body can synthesize vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, there are a number of factors that affect this process, such as skin pigmentation, latitude, time of day, and nutrition. Even if you spend a lot of time outside during the summer, you may not be getting enough vitamin D from sunlight alone, and many people spend their summers indoors.
Understanding Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in only a few foods and added to others. Many people also get it from supplements and sunlight exposure. This vitamin plays a central role in the body by facilitating calcium absorption in the gut, maintaining appropriate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to support good bone health, and promoting healthy immune function.
As previously mentioned, vitamin D belongs to the fat-soluble category of vitamins, which means that it dissolves in fat instead of water. This characteristic enables the body to store excess amounts of this nutrient if we consume it high doses. Our liver and fat cells store this vital vitamin for up to 4 months, which can be utilized later for sustaining regular physiological processes.
Sunlight converts provitamin D to pre-vitamin D3, allowing us to create our supply of vitamin D. The process begins when ultraviolet (UV) B radiation penetrates the skin's surface and triggers the conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol to pre-vitamin D3. Then once heat settles in, the skin completes this process following the tail-end reaction located close to the epidermal stemming surface.
Vitamin D is necessary for a robust immune response, bone strength and density, and even regulation of signals from nerves. Some people with especially low vitamin D can not only experience fragile bones that are prone to breaks and frequent symptoms from invasion of bacteria and viruses, but also increased signals of discomfort even in the absence of injury. Since vitamin D plays a role in calcium signaling, this impacts the way nerves can communicate between each other.
Sources of Vitamin D
The sun is the most abundant source of vitamin D production. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight trigger a chain reaction that creates vitamin D in our skin. However, factors such as geographical location, climate, season, clothing style, sunscreen use, and skin tone influence the amount of vitamin D synthesized in our skin when we're outside.
The best time to get into the sun to generate vitamin D is when the sun is at it’s brightest, during midday. Sunlight in the morning or evening is also effective, just less so, and you may need to be outdoors longer for the same vitamin D production you’d get during midday. The more of your skin you can expose to sunlight, the better, which is why people typically have higher vitamin D levels in the summer – most of us aren’t covering up as much as we are during the winter.
The closer you are to the equator, the more direct the sun’s rays are, and the more vitamin D you can make. If you’re far from the equator, less UV light makes it through the atmosphere so the less vitamin D you can make.
Those with high concentrations of melanin in their skin have protection from UV radiation, but this translates to decreased vitamin D production.
Food is another way to obtain vitamin D. Fatty fish species such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel are good sources since they contain high quantities of this nutrient. Eggs do contribute to some extent to your daily intake of this vital vitamin as well, and high quality dairy products like milk, cream, and butter contain some vitamin D.
However dietary sources alone might not be enough to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D in your body all year round. Supplementation comes in handy if you have limited exposure to UV rays, have deep skin pigmentation, or other factors that can inhibit vitamin D synthesis.
While winter is the most common time to supplement with vitamin D since we have far fewer chances to get out into the sun, it’s not the only time to consider supplementation.
Benefits of Summer Vitamin D Supplementation
Summertime signifies a chance for us to spend more time outdoors, unplugged from work and responsibilities, to soak up the sun's healing rays. However, this does not necessarily mean we are getting adequate amounts of vitamin D directly from the sunshine.
Studies have shown that few people are achieving their recommended daily intake of vitamin D purely through exposure to sunlight and diet alone. A study published in JAMA showed that almost 70% of adults in the US are likely to suffer from low levels of vitamin D. Certain factors, such as sunscreen use and staying indoors during peak hours, can limit the amount of natural production occurring in our skin.
Summer is like a window of opportunity to recharge your batteries; similarly, it is also an excellent time to ensure you stock up on much needed vitamin D levels by supplementation.
Excessive sun exposure may lead to skin damage, which is why limiting exposure between 10 am and 2 pm - when the sun's rays are at their strongest - may be an appropriate method to keep your skin smooth and healthy for some people. Since this is also the peak time for catching rays for vitamin D production, you might not be getting enough.
Studies show that daily supplementation with Vitamin D through summer has beneficial effects such as reducing mood symptoms, improving cognition and maintaining a more youthful cardiometabolic profile. Adding a daily dose of Vitamin D into your routine can help fill in any gaps.
Getting enough vitamin D year round can provide a host of potential benefits to help keep you feeling great at every age.
Enhancing Bone Health and Immunity
Vitamin D is necessary for the development and maintenance of healthy bones. It helps your body to absorb calcium, one of the essential building blocks of bones. Inadequate levels of vitamin D can lead to soft bones in children and fragile bones in adults, increasing the likelihood of fractures and bone disorders seen in many older adults. Insufficient vitamin D has also been linked to autoimmune challenges affecting bones, joints, and other organ systems.
Supplements that provide vitamin D can help improve bone density and reduce the risk of fractures. Some studies have indicated that people taking vitamin D supplements have better muscle function as well, which may also help in reducing falls and fractures.
Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of vitamin D supplementation for bone health. One large meta-analysis found that daily doses of vitamin D reduced the risk of hip fracture by up to 23 percent in older adults. Another study showed that people aged 65 or above who took 800 IU/day of vitamin D for more than three years had a lower risk of falling compared to those given a placebo.
Moreover, researchers believe that vitamin D may promote immunity by regulating immune cells' activities and enhancing their ability to fight bacteria, viruses and fungal invaders. Several recent studies suggest a link between vitamin D deficiency and the ability to fight off pathogens in the respiratory tract.
Vitamin D works like an alarm clock that ensures the immune system responds appropriately when attacked by viruses or bacteria. Think of your body's invasion-fighting cells as soldiers waiting for activation signals. Without enough vitamin D 'alarm,' they won't know how to respond in the event of an attack.
Vitamin D supplements may be especially important for those with weakened immune systems due to illness or age-related decline.
Determining the Optimal Vitamin D Dosage for Summer
In determining the right dose of vitamin D3, keep in mind the factors involved for your specific situation, such as age, weight, current vitamin D levels, and overall health status.
During summer when we can get enough sunlight exposure, those who may usually fall short of this target should aim for a minimum of 15 minutes per day of unprotected sun exposure on arms and legs. A half an hour per day is ideal if possible.
Consider a person who plans to make use of sufficient sun exposure by spending half an hour outside without sunscreen every day during summer. If this describes you, you may not need vitamin D in the summer since it’s likely your body will naturally convert enough vitamin D from the sun's ultraviolet rays.
However, for those living in high latitudes or cloudy climates, or are confined indoors due to work or other reasons should consider taking vitamin D supplements despite getting some sun exposure. Sunscreen also reduces the amount of vitamin D produced by the skin.
Melanin content in skin is also a factor in vitamin D production. Those who have deep melanin pigmentation do not create vitamin D as efficiently as this pigment blocks much of the UV radiation from the sun. While this is overall protective for skin health, if you fall into this category you may want to consider a vitamin D supplement in the summer, even if you’re outdoors often.
Groups at high risk of deficiency and those with conditions that impair bone health or impact liver function may require higher doses since their body cannot synthesize vitamin D efficiently. Additionally, elderly people who have a reduced ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins also may benefit from higher doses.
Choosing the Right Vitamin D Supplement in Summer
Getting sufficient vitamin D from sunlight can be challenging for several reasons, including staying indoors more often and wearing sunscreen, which limits the skin's ability to manufacture vitamin D. Not all supplements are created equal, and choosing the right one can be daunting. Here are some ways that can help you make an informed decision.
First, consider the form of vitamin D supplement to take. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is considered the most bioavailable form because it matches the type produced by your body when exposed to sunlight. On the other hand, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) needs to undergo conversion by your liver before becoming effective, so the D3 form is preferable.
Second, be aware of the dosages available and what dose could be appropriate for you. Optimal dosages vary depending on age and situation. Many people find the best results with 5000 IU per day. Some people who have poor absorption choose instead to take 50,000 IU once per week, though this dosage must be discussed with your trusted healthcare practitioner.
Third, decide on the source of vitamin D supplements. Some products are synthetic, while most come from animal sources such as fish or lanolin derived from sheep’s wool. Lanolin is a sustainable source of vitamin D, and is easily absorbed as a supplement. You may find a vegan option that contains lichen-derived vitamin D3 if you prefer not to consume animal-derived ingredients.
Think about the quality of the supplement as well. Look for brands that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), which ensure consistency in purity and potency from batch to batch. Also, check if they have undergone third-party testing by respected certification organizations like NSF International or USP (United States Pharmacopeia).
ProHealth meets all of these criteria. We have been creating the highest quality and purity supplements for over 35 years, so you know exactly what you’re getting when you choose ProHealth D3.
Unlocking the secret to a youthful summer glow lies not just in sunbathing, but in understanding and addressing our body's Vitamin D needs. This essential nutrient, crucial for bone health, immune function, and even nervous system signaling, may not be adequately synthesized from sunlight alone, despite the longer, sun-filled summer days. This fact, coupled with the limited amount of Vitamin D we get from food, underscores the value of supplementation, even in summer.
A robust understanding of Vitamin D, its sources, and the importance of supplementation forms the cornerstone of our health and vitality. As we soak up the summer sun, it's equally vital to supplement our 'sunshine vitamin' intake for an energized, radiant health. This comprehensive approach to Vitamin D synthesis, combined with a judicious choice of supplement, paves the way for a truly luminous summer glow.
- Avenue 677 Huntington, Boston, Ma 02115. Vitamin d. The Nutrition Source. Published September 18, 2012. Accessed June 29, 2023. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/
- Storage of vitamins and minerals. Hepatitis C Trust. Accessed June 29, 2023. http://www.hepctrust.org.uk/node/150
- Bikle DD. Vitamin d: production, metabolism and mechanisms of action. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Endotext. MDText.com, Inc.; 2000. Accessed June 29, 2023. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278935/
- Ginde AA, Liu MC, Camargo CA Jr. Demographic differences and trends of vitamin d insufficiency in the us population, 1988-2004. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2009;169(6):626-632. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2008.604
- Al-Daghri NM, Al-Attas OS, Alokail MS, et al. Increased vitamin D supplementation recommended during summer season in the gulf region: a counterintuitive seasonal effect in vitamin D levels in adult, overweight and obese Middle Eastern residents: Seasonal effect in vitamin D levels in Middle East. Clinical Endocrinology. 2012;76(3):346-350. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04219.x
- Pérez-López FR, Chedraui P, Fernández-Alonso AM. Vitamin D and aging: Beyond calcium and bone metabolism. Maturitas. 2011;69(1):27-36. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.02.014
- Arnson Y, Amital H, Shoenfeld Y. Vitamin D and autoimmunity: new aetiological and therapeutic considerations. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2007;66(9):1137-1142. doi:10.1136/ard.2007.069831
- Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Dawson-Hughes B, Staehelin HB, et al. Fall prevention with supplemental and active forms of vitamin D: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ. 2009;339:b3692. doi:10.1136/bmj.b3692