by Brittany Fuino, blogger
In the summer I soak up sunshine like it’s my job. Actually, it is my job. I lifeguard. Nothing beats the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from being outside all day. It’s an addiction with severe withdrawal symptoms when the seasons change to winter.
Severe enough to cause SU students to wear their Ray Bans inside of buildings, because they’ve forgotten what real sun looks like. Severe enough to make them think, “Maybe I should buy that tanning package on Marshall for only $200—steal!”
My cure lies in my nightstand drawer, right beside my embarrassingly frilly eye mask (ironic, since we get no sun). That’s where I keep my bottle of self-prescribed happy pills. Prozac, you ask? Oh no no, much better. Vitamin D!
Unlike our ancestors, most of us spend a majority of our day living and working indoors. That means we don’t get nearly as much sun as we used to. And sunlight is our main source of vitamin D, since our bodies don’t produce it on their own. That could be why 78 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D for good health, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements in Washington, D.C. The farther north you live, the more likely you are to be D-deficient.
The benefits of this vitamin are extensive. Research suggests it’s helpful in preventing cancer, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. But the more noticeable ones are awesome, include putting you in a better mood, reducing inflammation (thereby easing muscle aches and pains), and preventing colds and infections, according to Mark Hyman, MD.
It’s pretty tough to get enough vitamin D through food alone. How much is enough? The RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowances) for vitamin D varies by age; for most adults 600 IU is considered to be enough, according to the Institute of Medicine. Recent research indicates that amount may be too low. Oily fishes like salmon and canned tuna are good sources, along with fortified dairy products, orange juice, and some cereals. Three ounces of cooked salmon provides 794 IU, and one cup of fortified milk contains between 115-124 IU.
Boring stuff aside, what it comes down to is this: We live in the north. We get zero sunshine. Prescribe yourself a happy pill and start popping vitamin D daily, before you buy that $200 tanning package. Your body and wallet will thank you!