I get asked this question by my patients all the time. The simple answer is, yes.
Every cell in your body synthesizes and utilizes vitamin D, which makes it more of a hormone than a vitamin. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and it helps deposit calcium and phosphorus in bones and teeth, making them stronger. It is also involved in the growth and proliferation of immune and skin cells.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to conditions such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain autoimmune conditions.
The body produces Vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it synthesizes vitamin D then sends it to your liver and kidneys to get converted to the active form in the body.
In northern latitudes, the sun is only strong enough to stimulate vitamin D production in your skin 3-4 months of the year, typically from late spring through summer. During these months with regular exposure, about 20 minutes per day during peak sun hours without sunscreen, arms and legs exposed, your body will produce enough vitamin D to maintain adequate blood levels.
Are most people sunbathing for 20 minutes a day during the hours of 10-2 without sunscreen?
Therefore, if you have an optimal vitamin D levels and regularly exercise, work or participate in other daily outdoor activities, you’re probably ok to take the summer months off from supplementation.
If you’re vitamin D levels were low prior to summer or if you aren’t outside much, you should continue to supplement.
For adults, I usually recommend 2000IU per day of vitamin D to maintain blood levels. If you’re tying to raise them, your dosage may need to be increased.
Have your levels tested by your doctor to determine what supplementation is right for you.
By Dr. Alaina