Get More Sun

If you're an average American adult, or child, there's a good chance you're not getting enough vitamin D. Research shows fifty to sixty percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Laurie Johnson has more.
Got milk? If not, you might want to stock up. It takes a lot of milk to get the minimum healthy level of vitamin D.

"[You] do not get a lot of vitamin D from your food."

Dr. Thomas Watts is in the family practice department at Kelsey-Seybold. He says you'd need at least four glasses of milk a day to consume the minimum dose of vitamin D. There are other calcium-rich foods like salmon, but if you're eating the farm-raised variety you're not getting much out of it nutritionally speaking.

Instead of relying on diet, doctors are now recommending sun exposure.

"You need to have a certain amount of sun to replenish your vitamin D. And you can do that if you do it sensibly, 15 minutes a day or something like that, to your hands, arms and face. And by doing that you will get a reasonable amount of vitamin D and minimize your chances of getting skin cancer."

Watts says you still need to get vitamin D from your food. But time in the sun is also essential. That's because vitamin D deficiency is linked to a host of problems from osteoporosis to cardiovascular disease.

"The higher the level of vitamin D in your blood, the higher your bone density is going to be. The higher the level of vitamin D in your blood, the faster you can walk 15 feet. The higher the vitamin D in the blood, the faster you can sit/stand, sit/stand, sit/stand five times."

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows a majority of adults have low enough vitamin D levels to be at an increased risk for fractures, hypertension and even cancer.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...