How to Reap the Benefits of Vitamin D

This isn't the blog post that I was planning on doing today!  I had a fun fashion post almost ready to publish when I read an article in the new Porter Magazine about Vitamin D and I just had to share with all of you!  I knew that Vitamin D deficiency was very common, but I didn't realize just how important Vitamin D is to our health for a number of reasons.  

Sun hat and beach towel

I have always loved the sun.  I inherited that from my mother.  She is 85 years old and still loves to sunbathe.  When I was younger, and we went on family beach trips, there was not much sunscreen being used.  I always burned.  I loved it when my nose got red and peeled and I used to take a metal splatter screen to school because at lunch, my friends and I would sit outside on the steps and hold spatter screens underneath our faces to get more sun.  I can't imagine doing anything like that now, but I still do love to be outside in the sun.  The good news is that now, studies have shown that spending small amounts of time outside in the sun can be a good thing.  The Vitamin D produced in our skin following contact with the sun has been shown to deliver astounding health benefits.  Another fact that I wasn't aware of until I read this article is that Vitamin D is actually a hormone and not a vitamin.  I have summarized the Porter Magazine article below.

Over the past 30 years or so, changes in lifestyle, such as diligent sun protection and spending much of our time inside has meant that Vitamin D levels have plummeted.  Dr. Michael F. Holick, director of the Heliotherapy, Light and Skin Research Center at Boston University and author of The Vitamin D Solution says that "basically, the entire world is deficient in Vitamin D".

When skin is exposed to UVB sunlight, it synthesizes Vitamin D.  The Vitamin D is then transported through the bloodstream to where the body needs it.  Vitamin D makes our genes perform at optimum levels regardless of what the gene is responsible for.  Unless you spend part of every day, 365 days a year, in the bright sunlight with bare arms and legs, without sun protection, you will be low in Vitamin D.  Luckily, you can take a Vitamin D supplement and it will deliver the same health benefits as the UVB sunlight.

Research over the last several decades has consistently shown that the benefits of Vitamin D are life changing.  Every single cell and tissue in the body needs Vitamin D to function properly and "multiple chronic illnesses associated with Vitamin D deficiency, including auto-immune disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, common cancers of the prostate, ovary, breast and colon, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's."


Vitamin D is a major player in preventing cancer.  A study down by Dr. Holick with healthy adults taking 2,000 units of Vitamin D a day, discovered that 291 genes responsible for DNA repair, auto-oxidation, immune function and a variety of metabolic process were affected positively by Vitamin D.  "If a cell starts to become malignant, active Vitamin D first tries to normalize it and if it can't, it chemically messages it to die".

Dr. John J. Cannell, founder of America's Vitamin D Council recommends that adults and children over two years of age should take 3,000 units of Vitamin D every day.  The body absorbs Vitamin D in tablet form and any nationally available brand is fine.  There is little danger of overdosing on Vitamin D. "Vitamin D toxicity is the rarest medical condition in the world."

Because of the positive impacts on overall health, Dr. Cannell suggests supplementing babies with 1,000 units in their first year and 2,000 units until age two.  Studies have shown that Vitamin D plays a role in preventing autism in infancy and a recent study showed that women with low levels of Vitamin D are "four times more likely to have children who are diagnosed as autistic".


While a small amount of natural sunlight is a good thing, it is still important to wear sunscreen and take a Vitamin D supplement.