If a person is trying to decide between fish or vitamin D supplements to get the most of this important vitamin, natural sources are almost always ideal for nutrient consumption. Proper nutrient consumption should be just another reason for us to eat healthy.
Vitamin D, otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin, is produced in the body by sun exposure, through consumption of fish, and other fortified foods. It has long been the excuse of tanning salons to encourage patrons to expose their skin to harmful UV rays. Vitamin D is necessary to aid in calcium absorption and to promote strong and healthy bones. This day and age, many people apply sunscreen daily…and for good reason! A high SPF sunscreen is our first defense against premature aging, sun spots and skin cancer. However, applying even a low SPF is said to reduce Vitamin D production by 95%.
Who Is Deficient?
Deficiency is common, and generally related to poor intake over time. Those who stay out of the sun, or stay protected in the sun, obese people, dark-skinned people and Crohn’s Disease patients are often the first to have symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency. Even people who live 40 degrees to the north or south of the equator (about the latitude of New York City) can’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun during most months. On the other hand, to ensure proper absorption of calcium and therefore, stronger bones, hair and nails, we all must take care to get our RDA.
That said, while the flesh of fish is the best source of the vitamin, it is unlikely that any person will consume the 3 or so ounces that are needed on a daily basis to achieve the proper consumption levels. Missing out on adequate levels for an extended period of time can lead to Hypovitaminosis D osteopathy, or a group of deficiency symptoms, which don’t allow us to keep sufficient calcium levels in the body. Getting enough of this precious vitamin has been shown to protect your body against certain types of cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, fractures and shrunken height in later years.
What’s Our Best Bet?
Supplements! Supplementing a well balanced diet with Vitamin D is crucial for about 45% of American women! Surprising, isn’t it? But don’t take that as your excuse to bring back the 1980’s sun-goddess! You can find Vitamin D in cod liver oil supplements (Fish Oil) and vitamin D supplements, even in your child’s chewable…yes, 100% of the recommended daily amount!
Now, slather on the sunscreen, raise a glass to your health, and swallow a pill (with at least 400 IUs of Vitamin D!) while you’re at it!