Last week, I retired from Aultman Orrville Hospital. I have been in food service for nearly 53 years, and I am done punching a time clock. My plans are to continue to write and share helpful nutrition and health-related information. Monday mornings will have a new meaning for me.

In a few short weeks, the spring equinox will occur. Until the fall, the number of daylight minutes will be greater than the nighttime minutes. That means that there is more sunshine available. More sunshine means more opportunity to soak up solar rays to make Vitamin D.

This vitamin is a fat soluble vitamin, which means that the body stores Vitamin D for approximately three months. No matter how much body fat, the amount of stored Vitamin D is in proportion to the amount of sun’s rays that it absorbs or is consumed.

Vitamin D season has begun. The key is to bare the arms, legs and face to the sun, forego the sunscreen and allow the skin to make natural, organic Vitamin D for about 20 minutes a day. Afterward, lather up with sunscreen to prevent possible skin problems.

Taking an oral supplements of 1,000 IU to 10,000 IU per day of Vitamin D3 is recommended if sunshine is not available. More than 10,000 IU daily is not advised.

Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. Salmon, tuna, mackerel and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks. Some mushrooms provide vitamin D in variable amounts. Fortified foods, like milk and some cereals, provide most of the vitamin D in the American diet.

Vitamin D is one of the most useful nutritional tools we have at our disposal for improving overall health. Scientists have proven that Vitamin D is involved in bone health. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to many other health conditions such as depression, back pain, pneumonia, cancer, both insulin resistance and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, as well as, impaired immunity and macular degeneration. Studies are linking some heart disease to a lack of adequate Vitamin D.

Dr. Michael F. Holick, a dermatologist, is the crusader in Vitamin D research. In his book “The Vitamin D Solution”, he reports that three out of four Americans are deficient in Vitamin D.

Only 20 years ago only 50 percent of the population were lacking in Vitamin D. That is a big change. Dr. Holick says that Americans are not getting out in the sun as much as they used to and without sunshine, the skin is not able to make a healthy supply of Vitamin D.

Either supplement with Vitamin D or expose your skin for 20 minutes a day or both. Vitamin D supplements are good substitutes, but Vitamin D made by the sun lasts twice as long in the body as Vitamin D taken by mouth. My future retirement plans include getting plenty of natural Vitamin D.


Bobbie Randall

Contributing columnist

Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected].