Friday, April 1, 2011

Vitamin D or sun safety?

I was made more aware of the benefits & issues surrounding vitamin D when my child was an infant. Since I nursed, our initial pediatrician (yes, the one who asked if I had ever heard of colic) recommended I give him TriViSol supplements for vitamin D.

I researched it (that's what I do & I already was leery of this doc) and learned you mostly get vitamin D from sun exposure. Hello!?! I lived in Florida! And I took said child on a walk every morning so that he'd take a nap without the back breaking effort of rocking this 95%-for-his-weight infant. However, scientists hadn't figured out how much vit D a mother passes through breast milk so they were recommending it for every breast-fed child. I really don't care if "we've" figured it out or not. I can't imagine that God would somehow overlook this detail. I was still in awe of the details involved in the whole process of creating a child. I didn't give him the supplements.

Don't get me wrong--vitamin D is clearly very important. It naturally comes from the sun and your body builds up reserves. Get all you can in the summer I say. I used to have what I call my "March Mood" every year. It was the season when I would clear the bad out of my life (mostly bad boyfriends). Now I wonder if that was about the time I used up my vit D reserves & some sort of small depression would set in. It's noteworthy that my "March Mood" was virtually nonexistent when I lived in Florida.

This week I searched how to strike a balance between absorbing vit D and protecting yourself from harmful rays. The experts state that 5-30 minutes of prime sun twice a week should give you enough. First, so specific (not!). Second, it seems this is something they have totally pulled out of the air. And, if you get your vit D levels checked the results are skewed to the active levels at that moment. The test doesn't account for the reserves. Also it looks like they don't plan to conduct any studies on sun exposure for vit D because of the skin cancer risk. Humpf!

So, the result of my research is: we definitely need vit D. From there its ambiguous. I will likely still spend a few minutes in the sun most days during the summer without sunscreen and use SPF for longer exposure (as I've been doing for the past number of years). Perhaps I'll supplement in winter. If my March Mood returns, I will definitely supplement. (Did I mention that too much is toxic & you can't get vit D toxicity from the sun?)

As for the kids--they spend a lot of time outdoors & I don't slather them up really early morning or late afternoon or for really short periods. Peak times they definitely get slathered up! They also drink milk which is fortified with vit D so I think they are ok. They will absolutely not be laying out in their teens with the baby oil on. If I'm lucky they will also never choose to visit a tanning bed.

If you want to read more about vit D for yourself, I found this article a bit scientific, but thorough:

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