Between our sedentary lifestyle, and our conscientious use of sunscreens, most Americans don't get enough vitamin D.
Studies have shown that this vitamin's beneficial effects extend to reducing the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancers. And it's been known that vitamin D helps maintain strong bones. In fact, older adults can reduce their risk of falls by more than 20% by ensuring they get enough vitamin D.
When the body is exposed to the sun's UV light, it produces its own vitamin D. Scientists are finding that when we avoid sunlight all the time by slathering ourselves with sunscreen or avoiding the outdoors altogether, we lose our most effective source of vitamin D. No one is saying that you should lie out on the beach and tan all day the way we used to before we knew about the dangers of skin cancer. All that's required to increase your levels of vitamin D is 15 minutes a day of sun exposure without sunscreen, preferably outside of the peak sunlight hours of 10AM to 2PM.
While limited daily sun exposure is the best way to get vitamin D, there are other dietary options that can provide additional sources of this crucial vitamin. Fish are among the few good dietary sources of vitamin D. Once again, we come back to my favorite Sockeye Salmon, which has 1070 IU's (international units) of vitamin D in just one 6oz. serving. Other good options include Albacore Tuna and Silver Salmon, which offer 925 and 747 IU's of vitamin D respectively.
So be smart about sun protection, but don't neglect your vitamin D levels.