Local health professionals want to remind you about the health benefits to getting out in sun

News 8 spoke with Mary Duh, a certified physician assistant with Mayo Clinic Health System in Onalaska, who said that a combination of sun exposure and eating certain foods is the best way to get Vitamin D. Duh listed salmon, tuna, eggs and cheese as foods that naturally contain Vitamin D.

Duh said Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, keeps your skin healthy and can actually help prevent skin cancer and other cancers.

Time in the sun needed to absorb Vitamin D varies depending on skin tone and other factors according to Duh. She said that some recommend 10 to 15 minutes for those with light skin tones and up to two hours for those with darker skin tones, but also said that it is hard to say how much time one should spend in the sun because there’s not a lot of good science to back up numbers like that. If you spend time in the sun, it’s important to protect yourself from potentially harmful UV rays.

“Usually the recommendations are to just make sure you wear your sunscreen regularly to protect yourself from the skin cancer aspect and then to take a Vitamin D supplement. If you’re wanting to get some sun exposure, the time to go out to balance out the vitamin D absorption as well as to minimize the risk for skin cancer would be to avoid the peak times of the day: the 10 to two o’ clock or so,” said Duh.

If you take supplements, Duh recommends 1000 to 2000 international units, or IU, of Vitamin D a day in adults. She said that people who work in dermatology, like her, tend to recommend more Vitamin D than typical recommendations, which are usually around 800 IUs a day. However, Duh said that natural sources of Vitamin D are preferred to supplements or food fortified with Vitamin D.

Duh said Vitamin D deficiency is hard to detect and can lead to a variety of health problems such as skins rashes, and worsening of pre-existing conditions, and it can lead to a greater risk of bone density loss as you age.