3 Ways to Increase Vitamin D Levels: Sunlight, Seafood and Pills - hair buddha
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3 Ways to Increase Vitamin D Levels: Sunlight, Seafood and Pills

how to get Vitamin D

Last time, we saw the health and hair benefits of vitamin D. From creating strong bones to boosting the immune system to promoting hair growth. Vitamin D can also protect us against heart disease, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune problems.

Vitamin D is pretty amazing stuff. But when you get low on this vital nutrient, your bones suffer, your health suffers, and so does your hair. Ouch! So, how do we get the vitamin D levels up?

3 Ways to Increase Vitamin D Levels

1. Spend Time in The Sunshine

2. Eat Foods High in vitamin D: Fatty Fish and Mushrooms

3. Take Vitamin D Supplements

1. Spend Time in The Sunlight: It’s A Natural Source of Vitamin D

Sunshine for Vitamin D

Sunlight is everywhere on earth all year round, except maybe the north and south poles, where there is complete darkness for a few months. But not many people live there. Whereas it’s estimated that one billion people may be low in this vital nutrient. And no country is spared from the D deficiency. Be it the United States or Europe, or even the sunniest places like India, Australia or the Middle East.

Why’s that? Unfortunately, the sun is often deemed as the ‘bad guy’. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Complete avoidance of all-sun exposure has put the world’s population at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Of course, you don’t need to spend the whole day basking in the sun to get the D levels up. You only need a few minutes without sunscreen and without covering your arms or legs or both. Your skin must be exposed to direct sunlight.

A general recommendation from the expert bodies and vitamin D researchers is 10 to 30 minutes of sun between 10 am and 4 pm, two to three times a week. Also, the more arms, legs and body you expose to the sun, the faster you make vitamin D. So body surface area matters.

Despite the above suggestions, there are certain factors you need to know about making vitamin D from the sun:

  1. The sun emits two types of ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB – which reach the earth. For making vitamin D, the skin needs UVB. But UVB is not an easy catch.
  2. A cloudy sky reduces UVB rays. So does smog and pollution. You need a clear sky to generate vitamin D.
  3. Catching the sun’s rays through the window will not help, as glass blocks the UVB rays.
  4. Wearing sunscreen with sun protection of 15 absorbs 99% of UVB rays and thus reduces the synthesis of vitamin D by 99%.
  5. The time of day matters. The best time to catch UVB rays is between 10 am to 4 pm. This is the time when a large number of UVB photons reach the earth’s surface.
  6. You can’t make vitamin D through clothes. Your body – arms or legs or both must be directly exposed to sunlight.
  7. If you have a darker skin tone, you will need to spend a longer time in the sun. That’s because dark melanin pigments act as a natural sunscreen and reduces the skin’s production of vitamin D.
  8. If you live far north or south of the equator, the change in the sun’s angle during winter months makes it hard for UVB rays to reach down. For almost six months, from October to March, if you live in northern Europe, the UK, Northern States, or Canada, it’s recommended to supplement with vitamin D. (And if you live far south, it will be your winter months.)

I know there are a zillion rules to get the sunshine vitamin. The bottom line is to keep your arms and legs exposed to the sun between 10 am and 4 pm a few minutes a day, and you should be able to absorb enough vitamin D….But, you can also eat vitamin D-rich foods to up D levels. Let’s find out what they are…

2. Eat Foods High in Vitamin D: Fatty Fish and Mushrooms

Foods High in Vitamin D

Food-wise also vitamin D is not easy to get. There aren’t very many foods that contain vitamin D. Moreover, the amount of vitamin D in them may not be enough. So you can’t rely on them for a complete supply of your D needs. Nonetheless, eating them will help you boost your vitamin levels.

What foods are high in vitamin D?

  • Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, cod, trout, mackerel and tuna
  • Cod liver oil (there’s a tendency for it to go rancid quickly)
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Mushrooms

In some countries, common foods are fortified with D. These include: milk, yogurt, cereals and juice products. You can check the labels.

With so many factors attached to making vitamin D via sunlight or eating selected vitamin D-rich foods, the easy bet is to take D pills. Where you exactly know how much you are getting. Let’s find out more…

3. Take Vitamin D Supplements

vitamin-D Supplements for Hair Loss

The good thing about modern science is that it has made things very convenient for us. Today you can easily get vitamin D in different doses, available at most pharmacies and supermarkets.

You can buy vitamin D online here

So how much should you take?

Well, there is no general consensus over the dose. Different countries have different recommendations. The United Kingdom dietary recommendation for vitamin D is 400 IU (or 10 mcg) per day for all adults (1). Whereas, The Office of Dietary Supplements of the United States recommends that adults get 600 IU (or 15 mcg) of vitamin D per day (2). Although, some groups such as The Endocrine Society recommends 1,500 to 2,000 IU daily to maintain optimum vitamin D levels.

If your vitamin D levels are really low, less than 12ng/mL, your doctor may prescribe you a higher dose of D. And you should always take it under the doctor’s supervision. That’s because too much vitamin D can cause harmful effects on health, which you don’t want, right? Here’s what you need to know about D toxicity…

Vitamin D Toxicity and Overdose

You can never get too much vitamin D from sunlight. The skin is a clever entity, and it limits the amount of vitamin D it makes.

But if you are taking a high dose of vitamin D supplements, it may harm you. Very high levels of vitamin D in your blood can cause nausea, vomiting, confusion, loss of appetite, excessive thirst and urination and kidney stones. Also, taking a high dose of vitamin D for a long period of time can cause calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia). This can potentially damage the heart and the kidneys (3). It is advised to keep the daily intake below 4000 IU, unless told by your doctor..

Note: Always talk to your health care providers (doctor, dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) before taking the dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. 

That’s all on vitamin D… Let’s do a recap of what we have seen so far in Part 1: Vitamin D and Hair Loss Connection, and Part 2: Best Sources of Vitamin D:

Vitamin D is one of the essential nutrients for the body. It helps make strong bones, boost immunity and improve overall health.

1. Vitamin D may also protect against chronic conditions such as: heart disease, certain cancers, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune problems.

2. Vitamin D plays a vital role in the hair growth cycle. And its lack can halt the anagen initiation, so no new hair will grow to replace the old ones.

3. Vitamin D deficiency has links with female pattern hair loss and alopecia areata.

4. The good news is, when you correct the deficiency, there are fair chances of hair regrowth.

5. There are three ways you can meet the requirement of vitamin D, through sunlight, foods and pill.

6. Sunlight is the natural source of D.

7. You can also eat vitamin D-rich foods to up your D levels. Best sources include oily fish such as salmon, tuna, trout and sardines.

8. And lastly, the vitamin D pill is the easiest way to get vitamin D.

How do you meet your need for vitamin D – sunlight, foods or pills or all three? Let me know in the comment box below…

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