Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 25 : Summer 2015 - Page 79

deficiency in the United States is that the majority of us live north of the 35th parallel (north of Atlanta or San Diego). Humans make 90% of our vitamin D naturally from sunlight exposure, specifically UVB rays, to our skin. In more northern regions, our winter months and lifestyles tend to limit our outdoor time – UVB cannot penetrate glass so sitting by the window won’t help either. And UVB strength decreases the further from the equator you get. The increased use of sunscreens also inhibits the absorption of vitamin D producing rays. An SPF of 30, for example, decreases vitamin D synthesis in the skin by more than 95%. weight and not smoking, may also help improve your levels. We are also an aging population. The older we get, the less effectively our bodies absorb and process vitamin D. Seniors are also more likely to stay inside and wear clothing that covers much of their skin, thereby reducing the exposure to natural sunlight. In fact, it’s estimated that upwards of 80 % of nursing home patients are vitamin D deficient. Healthy You is a free community program from Cary Medical Center that addresses your overall wellbeing including physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health. For program information or calendar of events, go to www.carymedicalcenter.org or call Cary Medical Center’s Public Relations Department at 207.498.1361. While chances are good that you or someone you love has/ will have a vitamin D deficiency (remember, almost half of Americans do), don’t just assume that’s the case. Talk with your healthcare provider about getting a vitamin D test and then, if you’re deficient, work together to resolve it. Also, NEVER take supplements or make drastic changes to your diet and wellness routines without consulting your provider first. When it comes to sun exposure, remember that too much of a good thing can be damaging. Overexposure to UV rays Aside from sunlight, the only other sources of vitamin D has been shown to significantly increase your risk of skin are food and supplements. Unfortunately, there are very cancer. Ask your medical provider how to safely reap the few dietary sources of vitamin D and, of the foods highest benefits of sunlight. in the nutrient, several of them aren’t staples in the average American diet. These include cod liver oil, egg yolks, Sources: liver, oily fish (like mackerel, sardines, and salmon), and WebMD, “Are you getting enough vitamin D?” tofu. Many foods have vitamin D added to them during The Washington Post, “Vitamin D: something you’re likely the manufacturing process. Known as fortified foods, to lack” many cereals and dairy products fall into this category. NaturalNews.com, “15 Facts About Vitamin D” But it still can be difficult to get enough vitamin D this MedicineNet.com way. For instance, a person would have to drink ten tall National Institute of Health glasses of fortified milk every day just to meet the minimum University of Florida, “Facts about Vitamin D” recommendations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Other vitamin D deficiency risk factors include obesity, liver/ Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is kidney disease, having a dark complexion, gastrointestinal not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please diseases like Crohn’s or celiac, and some medications. consult your healthcare provider for health questions and recommendations specific to you. Determining your vitamin D level is easily done with a simple blood test. If you end up being deficient, welcome to the club! We’re a nice group of people, but, for your good health, you really should take immediate steps to get your membership revoked. Fortunately, turning your deficiency around isn’t usually complicated. Be aware, however, that getting vitamin D up to the optimal level can take a long time…as in several months or even more than a year. After I got my deficiency diagnosis, my healthcare provider prescribed me a supplement. This is a typical course of action to help people who are probably not getting the recommended intake of vitamin D, which, according to the National Institute of Health is: • Children and Teens 600 IU (international units/day • Adults up to age 70 600 IU/day • Adults age 71+ 800 IU/day Other common recommendations to boost vitamin D are getting exposure to natural sunlight for 10 – 15 minutes at a time and increasing consumption of vitamin D-rich foods. General good health practices, like maintaining your ideal SUMMER 2015 77