by Victoria Simpson
With full summer sunshine come perfect opportunities to soak up some valuable vitamin D. A bright walk at lunch, a day basking at the beach in a bikini, or some naked alone time in the backyard. Have you tried the latter? Sounds tempting. Here in Canada due to our latitude, the sun’s rays aren’t strong enough in fall and winter for us to soak up vitamin D through the skin, the natural way. To compensate, doctors recommend taking supplements at 1000 international units (IU) daily from October to April.
But some people are taking the supplements year-round, just to be certain. Some people need to. But some don’t-and TOO much of the encapsulated sunshine can be a bad thing. Vitamin D gets stored in human fat cells like canned corn in a bunker and any excess can result in a build up to harmful levels.
While not common, problems resulting from too much supplementation include raised blood calcium resulting in damage to the heart, blood vessels and kidneys, a condition called hypercalcemia. Early symptoms of hypercalcemia include:
- poor appetite
It’s good to know that toxicity is rare for most people and it’s unlikely to occur at daily intakes below 10, 000 IU. However hypercalcemia is a side effect that only arises when taking too many supplements and so it’s beneficial to take advantage of the possibility of getting our vitamin D the natural way, while we can.
For proper absorption, it’s estimated that light-skinned Canadians get up to 15 minutes of exposure each day on the hands, arms, and face around 12 noon. If you are dark skinned, be aware that a study of healthy University of Toronto students found individuals of South Asian descent to be almost six times more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency than those of European descent. If this is you, stay out in the park and party-you will need a longer exposure time in order to get this same amount of benefit, due to your natural super powers of sun protection.
What about liquid skin protection? Beliefs are always changing but a recent study found our bodies can produce vitamin D even while you’re wearing sunscreen. So slap some on, or don’t, and get out there to catch some effective rays while you can.