HealthBeat4: The sunshine vitamin - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

HealthBeat4: The sunshine vitamin

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

Calcium is important for our bone health, but as Stephanie Schieffer with Mercy Medical Center explains, there's another vitamin that's often overlooked and it's just as important.

Vitamin D. The "sunshine vitamin."

"Our body uses sunlight to convert vitamin D that's usable in our bodies," said Scheiffer.

Vitamin D is essential for our bone and muscle health. It helps the body absorb calcium from the foods we eat. We all need it, but most of us don't get enough of it, especially here in the tri-state area where we're exposed to less sunlight during the winter months. And even though we get more sun in the summer, what we wear can shield the sunlight.

"Things like clothing and sunscreen," said Scheiffer.

Because of this.

"Vitamin D deficiencies are becoming more and more recognized," said Scheiffer.

Schieffer said a vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis in adults or rickets in children.

So, if your skin isn't soaking up the sun's rays, Scheiffer said you might not be getting enough vitamin D. The sun isn't the only way to get the vital nutrient. Schieffer said salmon and tuna are also great sources.

"So there are many ways that you can get your vitamin D if you aren't exposed to much sunlight," said Scheiffer.

Even just a little bit of sun can go a long way in maintaining healthy bones.

Scheiffer said if you have light skin, your body requires 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure each day. If you have darker skin, your body requires at least three hours of sun exposure per day.

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