The body needs Vitamin D for good health – and sunlight is a great way to get it, but moderation is the key to sun exposure, experts say.
Why do you need it? – Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous for strong bones. Studies also suggest it may have an immune effect, protect against forms of cancer and prevent cardiovascular disease.
How much do you need? – It depends on your age. For infants and children, 200 international units (IU) of Vitamin D daily, 400 IU for adults up to age 50; 600 IU for adults older than 50. Some research suggests more is needed. No more than 2,000 IU is recommended unless prescribed by a doctor.
How do you get it? - Sunlight. Foods, such as fortified milk, cheese, yogurt, fatty fish. Supplements.
How much sun do you need? – It varies. People with lighter skin need less than darker-skinned people. But about 15 minutes of sun exposure a few times a week without sunscreen is adequate for most people.
How much sun is too much? – It depends on your skin type. But it’s not necessary to get a tan or sunburn to get the desired amount of Vitamin D from the sun. Too much sun can lead to skin cancer.
Sources: National Institutes of Health, National Academics of Science, the online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Circulation.
McClatchy Tribune/The Fresno Bee