Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

I have a love hate relationship with Colorado weather.

I hate that I had to scrape snow and ice off my car windshield Easter morning.

I love that the sun shines an average of 300 days a year in Colorado.

I hate that the temperature can go from 70 degrees to 30 degrees in 12 hours.

I love 70 degree (and higher) weather!

Today is an “I love Colorado weather day!”

It is 75 degrees, the sky is deep blue, and the sun is beaming. On Sunday I was wearing a coat and gloves, on Wednesday I’m wearing shorts and a tank top; so goes the never-ending story of Colorado’s spring weather.

In my love-of-the-Colorado-sun state of mind, I picked up my laptop and fled to a lawn chair. I’m happily marinating in the glorious hot sun as I work this afternoon. A couple years ago I heard Michael Holick M.D., speak at a medical conference. Holick is the national expert on Vitamin D. The best source of Vitamin D is direct sunlight. Holick recommends 15 minutes every day of natural sunlight. Sixty percent of the body should be exposed without sunscreen. He is a medical renegade (the 45 SPF recommending dermatologists don’t like him), nonetheless, I think his research is brilliant and worth paying attention to. He is also a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine. Holick delivered the most entertaining, informative and hilarious speech I have ever heard. In the end, all 300 doctors in the room rose to their feet applauding and whistling. I’ve never witnessed a standing ovation at a medical conference let alone thunderous applause that literally shook the hotel ballroom. Of course, after that speech I mentally added Holick to my list of Healthy Discoveries!

Vitamin D plays a critical role in building strong bones, but its benefits go well beyond bone health. In a New York Times interview Holick explains the metabolic, neurological and cellular benefits of Vitamin D. He also explains how it can profoundly boost the immune system and decrease the risk of common cancers like; colon, prostate, ovarian and breast cancer. I am particularly intrigued with the Vitamin D research around increased immune function and decreased cancer risk.

Holick wrote a book called The UV Advantage: The Medical Breakthrough That Shows How to Harness the Power of the Sun for Your Health

Something to read at the beach, or in a lawn chair, while soaking in the precious sun! In the meantime here’s some of HOLICK’S VITAMIN D FACTS AND STATISTICS:

1. Vitamin D is produced by your skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight.

2. The healing rays of natural sunlight (that generate Vitamin D in your skin) cannot penetrate glass. So you don’t generate Vitamin D when sitting in your car or home.

3. It is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from your diet. Sunlight exposure is the only reliable way to generate Vitamin D in your own body. A person would have to drink ten tall glasses of Vitamin D fortified milk each day just to get minimum levels of Vitamin D into their diet.

4. The further you live from the equator, the longer exposure you need to the sun in order to generate Vitamin D. Canada, the UK and most U.S. states are far from the equator.

5. People with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 -30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of Vitamin D.

6. Sufficient levels of Vitamin D are crucial for calcium absorption in your intestines. Without sufficient Vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless.

7. Chronic Vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight: it takes months of Vitamin D supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous system.

8. Even weak sunscreens (SPF=8) block your body’s ability to generate Vitamin D by 95%. This is how sunscreen products actually cause disease — by creating a critical vitamin deficiency in the body.

9. It is impossible to generate too much Vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure, your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs.

10. If it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic Vitamin D deficiency right now.

11. Vitamin D is “activated” in your body by your kidneys and liver before it can be used. Having kidney disease or liver damage can greatly impair your body’s ability to activate circulating Vitamin D.

12. Super antioxidants boost your body’s ability to handle more sunlight without burning. Powerful antioxidants with this ability include fruits like; pomegranates, blueberries, etc.DISEASES & CONDITIONS CAUSED BY VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY:

1. Osteoporosis is commonly caused by a lack of Vitamin D, which greatly impairs calcium absorption.

2. Sufficient Vitamin D prevents prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, depression, colon cancer and schizophrenia.

3. Vitamin D deficiency may exacerbate type 2 diabetes and impair insulin production in the pancreas.

4. Obesity impairs Vitamin D utilization in the body, meaning obese people need twice as much Vitamin D.

5. Vitamin D is used around the world to treat psoriasis.

6. Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by a melatonin imbalance initiated by lack of exposure to sunlight.

7. Chronic Vitamin D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia because its symptoms are so similar: muscle weakness, aches and pains.

8. Your risk of developing serious diseases like diabetes and cancer is reduced 50% – 80% through simple, sensible exposure to natural sunlight 2-3 times each week.

9. Infants who receive Vitamin D supplementation (2000 units daily) have an 80% reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes over the next twenty years.


40% of the U.S. population is Vitamin D deficient.

Up to 60% of all hospital patients are Vitamin D deficient.

76% of pregnant mothers are severely Vitamin D deficient, causing widespread Vitamin D deficiencies in their unborn children, which predisposes them to type 1 diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia later in life. 81% of the children born to these mothers were deficient.

Up to 80% of nursing home patients are Vitamin D deficient.


1. Sensible exposure to natural sunlight. Sensible is the key word; do not burn! 5-15 minutes of sun exposure each day without sunscreen is the maximum limit. If you stay out longer put on sunscreen to avoid harmful burning and painful peeling.

2. Read Holick’s book, discover how sensible sunlight exposure (not hours of tanning) is one of the most powerful healing agents we have today.