A recent study on Vitamin D contradicted what’s long been believed: that taking it as a supplement was “a way to improve bone health and possibly ward off the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis in older adults.”
While this was big news, reported everywhere as kind of a letdown (it’s nice to thinking popping a pill may protect us from bone fractures and breaks!), it’s key to remember that Vitamin D is still an essential nutrient. In researching women’s health as we age, I became well aware of the serious impact it has on our mood and our hormonal balance (for good and for bad!). So it was a wakeup call for me when my doctor told me that my Vitamin D levels were extremely low at my last appointment. And I’m not alone. Over 94 percent of the U.S. population is deficient in their vitamin D levels.
I thought about what was happening. I’m a fair-skinned woman who believed I was doing the best thing to always wear sunscreen and long sleeves in the sun. And then I fell into a trap at work—working through my breaks or lunch hours meant I could get a lot more done and maybe even leave earlier—but my time in the daylight dwindled. My doctor said I could go on supplements to boost my levels, but the best way to get back on track was just to spend 10 minutes in the sun, no sunscreen, letting it sink in, not burn(!). It was also another reminder that there are benefits to taking a break, just a 10-minute walk outside, for mental and physical reasons.
I know a daily walk isn’t possible for everyone. I live in Southern California and warm days full of sunshine are plentiful. In wintry weather, maybe it requires a different kind of plan. Sun when you can get it for 10 solid minutes or a regular supplement in drearier times of year? But it’s something that impact us now and into our future.
So maybe Vitamin D is not the supplement that makes our bones unbreakable, but getting enough is important to keep us—and our bodies—happy. Start by finding out your levels, and determine how you can get more light in your life and enjoy a sunnier disposition!