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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 06/18/2008

Sun Paradox: Getting Your Daily Dose of D

Wx and the City

By Ann Posegate, Guest Contributor

In a work-a-holic city of idealists and intellects (oh, and then there are the politicians) - it's tough to feel justified in taking a short break to head outside during the beautiful weather we're having (where was this weather all spring?). Do you need an excuse?

I have recently overheard a few colleagues talking about their vitamin D deficiencies, which leads me to believe that many Washingtonians may not be getting the right amount of sunlight exposure each week.

Keep reading to learn if unprotected sun is safe for you. See our full forecast to find out how long the sun will stick around for.

Certainly, there is a fine line between healthy and unhealthy time spent in the sun. Ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) rays should be taken seriously, as too much exposure can lead to sunburns and, eventually, skin cancer.

However, our bodies need vitamin D to absorb calcium, promote bone growth, support the immune system, and reduce inflammation, among other functions. In addition, a new study at UCSD has concluded that vitamin D produced from limited sunlight exposure may help reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes in children. Other studies suggest it helps to prevent some cancers, autoimmune disorders, and (obviously) vitamin D deficiency disorders.

Sunlight isn't the only way to get your D. Many foods, such as fortified milk, cereal, and juices (is that why they named it Sunny D?), fish and fish oils, eggs, and the occasional mushroom are also sources of the essential vitamin (although if you're lactose intolerant like me, vitamin D-fortified milk just isn't going to cut it). Supplements may also work. But, for those people who are not extremely sun-sensitive and who don't have a history of skin cancer, a good way to get your daily dose of D is 10 minutes of mid-day sun exposure - on the arms, legs, hands or face - at least two to three times per week.

Maybe it's the D that puts me in a happy mood on sunny days. And in an office job, it's all I can do to keep myself from running outside and enjoying the weather every fifteen minutes. But, during weather such as this, here are a few ideas for catching some sunny rays while staying safe from UV and still working eight productive hours...

1) Going for the good old fashioned walk around the block - to your nearest park, the post office, or to grab some lunch;
2) Biking to work - good for exercise, sunlight, saving money on gas, and reducing summer smog;
3) Setting up an outdoor thermometer or small weather station - on your roof or outside your window (one that you can check regularly);
4) Eating lunch or taking a reading break outside - those park benches need more use...; or
5) Taking a pre or post-work jog - why wait until you get home to clear your mind and de-stress?

How will you get your vitamin D today?

By  |  10:30 AM ET, 06/18/2008

Categories:  Environment, Environment, Environment

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