Required for the absorption of calcium and phosphate, Vitamin D is also essential in the formation of bones and teeth. Recent research also suggests that it might have an effect in reducing the cancer, including breast, colon and prostate cancer.
Vitamin D is found in certain foods, including:
- Cod liver oil
- Fortified margarine
- Fortified breakfast cereals
In addition, the skin can synthesize vitamin D if exposed to enough sunlight on a regular basis. Some doctors even believe that we need more exposure to sunlight. This has led to some confusion about whether we should be getting more or less sunlight.
The thinking has been that as long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun (UVA and UVB) increases the risk of skin cancer, we should wear sunscreen and sun-protective clothing during the summer months.
However, while sunscreens and clothes block out the harmful UVA and UVB radiation, reducing the chance of developing skin cancer, they also reduce the skin's ability to manufacture Vitamin D.
Thus some doctors are now recommending that we should still use sunscreens and wearing sun-protective clothing, but should also spend a few minutes in the sun without protection on a regular basis.
The target is about 10-15 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen.