How to get all the vitamin D you need




Welcome, MSR readers, to a new section you will see appear regularly in these pages, something we call Green2Green. Most of you by now have heard of the green movement to clean up our planet, stop the waste of precious natural resources, and get climate change under control. What is not always clear is just what this movement means to each one of us in our everyday lives. Nor is it always clear how this movement includes environmental justice issues of particular concern to communities of color. And finally, it is not always clear how the green movement can also save us green, as in Benjamin green, and is creating new opportunities for productive careers. We hope to clarify much of this for our readers in the stories that will appear in Green2Green in the months ahead. So slip on your green-tinted glasses and learn what this movement means to you and your family today as we make the world safe and healthy for the generations of tomorrow. 



Green2GreenAfrican Americans suffer from vitamin D deficiencies more than their White counterparts, who require less sun and less vitamin D than we do. While we don’t have an ethno-medical system, research shows that as people of African decent with melanin in every organ, cell and skin, we need to support our melanin by feeding it with God’s gift of the sun!sun

I have heard many people say, “I stay out of the sun because I don’t wanna get too Black!” My focus is on how to stay healthy here, but if we feel this way, we truly need to ask ourselves why it is that we don’t want to get “too dark” or feel less than beautiful when we are several shades darker. Where did this conditioning start, and how can you break this destructive cycle of self-hate?

In this two-part column, I will be focusing on how to get maximum absorption and lead you to healthy sources of plant-based foods and herbs — and, of course, our sun!

Symptoms of low vitamin D include general muscle pain and weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, joint pain, chronic pain, weight gain, high blood pressure, restless sleep, poor concentration, headaches, bladder problems, and constipation or diarrhea.

The dangers of not having enough vitamin D are 17 varieties of cancer (including breast, prostate and colon), heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis and osteopeni, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, gout, infertility and PMS (premenstrual syndrome), Parkinson’s disease, depression and seasonal affective disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, periodontal disease and psoriasis.

Living in Minnesota’s cold climate, I’ve had a continuous battle with keeping my levels of vitamin D up. Although I do sunbathing and am out in the sun, we have a significant number of days with cloud cover or no sun at all. While researching, I ran across some of the best insights on the subject.

Supplementation should only be an alternative to direct sun exposure. Mainstream media and the medical professions have given faulty misinformation based upon a study 25 years ago.

People with fair skin (Caucasians) need to build up a tolerance and protective coating to the sun. Once their skin is tanned, it is safe to be in the sun at peak hours, and coconut oil provides the best safe sunscreen SPF protection that is organic and chemical free (no cancer-causing agents), though you will need to wear a visor/hat to cover eyes and facial skin.


People whose ancestors came from Africa and who have a significant amount of melanin will be safe in the sun and do not need to build up a protective barrier. New research shows it takes 48 hours for the D3 to absorb into your skin after sunbathing; therefore, while bathing or showering avoid using soap on large surfaces of your skin. You only need it where bacteria forms (under the arms or groin).

How do you know when you’re absorbing enough vitamin D? The only way to know your levels is to have blood work done by your doctor or health provider. Darker skin is helpful in shielding ultraviolet radiation from the sun, but it also prevents vitamin D absorption, which means we need longer sunlight exposure.

Similarly, when using sunscreen with a sun protection factor higher than eight, this can also prevent vitamin D synthesis. Clothing also acts as a shield from sunlight. Of course, with today’s fading ozone layer, we need to find a balance between natural sunlight absorption and prudent skin protection during peak hours when the sun is high.

Also, as we age our bodies become less adept at cutaneous production of vitamin D; therefore, seniors will require longer exposure to sunlight or will need to access vitamin D through fortified foods or supplements.

Due to the physics and the wave length of UVB rays, they will only penetrate the atmosphere when the sun is 50 degrees from the horizon. This means you need to determine the latitude and longitude of your geographical location on a travel-math calculator from the U.S. Navy website. The ideal location for maximum absorption is where the sun shines always.

Here’s another way to tell when it’s the best time to get your fun in the sun! When the sun is high in the sky — when your shadow is not much longer than you — the action of sun on the skin provides plenty of vitamin D and there is no need to get it from food at this point. However, when being in the sun is not an option, we can go to various food sources for help. Next week we’ll focus on foods rich in vitamin D.


Renee Barron welcomes reader responses to