I recently had some blood work done, and the Doctor, an endocrinologist, said that because of Ohio's typical cloudy weather, we as residents are particularly prone to Vitamin D deficiencies. I, being the research-aholic that I am, tried to find information to back this.
Not only does a vitamin D deficiency inhibit your body from absorbing Calcium (can you say Os-te-o-por-o-sis?), but research shows that it is a contributing factor to a laundry list of Cancers. Boycotting sunscreen obviously isn't the answer, since skin cancer isn't a healthy trade-off. So, what to do? What is safe? Safe exposure varies greatly by the individual. An article in US News Health described the necessary exposure to range from as little as a few minutes for someone with fair skin, to 20 for someone who is already tan, and 6 times that for someone with black skin.
Also, even for the outdoorsy types that scoff at sun screen, this same article states that, "...in the winter, it's impossible to produce vitamin D from the sun if you live north of Atlanta because the sun never gets high enough in the sky for its ultraviolet B rays to penetrate the atmosphere." So, Ohioans are particularly vulnerable, but it's safe to say that vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic worldwide. Whether protecting ourselves from harmful rays, or due to our sun deficient state, we are left to acquire our vitamin D from other sources, such as fatty fish, fortified milk, or supplements...things that many Americans are guilty of having too little of in our diet.
So, ask your doctor if you are deficient, like 40% of Americans are, and take action now to protect you and your family!