10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Vitamin D


This month we have been talking about The Great Outdoors, and another awesome thing about getting outside is the health benefits!  I know that when I get outside with my kids, I just feel better, don’t you?

Getting outside in the sunshine with my two kiddos

Well there is something amazing that happens when we step outside, and the sun hits our skin.  Our skin converts the ultra-violet rays into a molecule on our skin and that is then sent to the liver and converted to Vitamin D3.  Then it goes through the blood and gets further converted in the kidney’s to a active metabolite and the receptors for this hormone-like substance are present in almost every single organ.

Vitamin D is surely amazing, and as more research comes out, we are learning more and more about the importance of this special vitamin.  It is probably the most single under-rated nutrient in the world of nutrition.

The recent research suggests that almost 80% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient.  Isn’t that amazing? We are not getting enough sun exposure.  I think that most would say that living in Arizona gives us a benefit, and so none of us should be worried- because we get lots of sun!  However this isn’t true.  Most of us try and stay OUT of the heat, and when we do, we lather up the sunscreen that blocks the UV rays that create the Vit. D (more on that later). Consider this:

A study of 1,192 persons living in either Tucson or Phoenix, Arizona addressed that specific question. Blood was drawn each season and on average, only 22.3 percent of these persons had a 25-OH vitamin D level >30ng/mL.   The optimal range is between 50- 80ng/ml. REF: Am J Clinical Nutrition. Mar;87(3):608-13. 2008

And from November- February it is almost impossible to get enough sun to create vitamin D, if you live anywhere North of San Francisco to D.C.

So here are the top 10 things you probably didn’t know about Vitamin D:

  1. The healing rays that generate Vitamin D in your skin- cannot penetrate glass.  So sitting in your living room, or in your car, doesn’t cut it.
  2. Without vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless.
  3. It is nearly impossible to get enough vitamin D through your diet.
  4. If you are severely vitamin D deficient, it cannot be reversed over night.  It takes months of sun exposure, and supplementation to bring levels back up.
  5. Even very week sunscreens, such as SPF 8 block the rays that can create Vitamin D, and vitamin D has been linked to many cancers, including skin cancer.  This is how sunscreen actually causes disease- by creating a vitamin D deficiency.
  6. If it hurts to press sternly on your sternum then you might have a Vitamin D deficiency.
  7. There is currently a study being done with the theory that Autism is caused by serious Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women.
  8. People who are older, obese, or have dark colored skin need substantially more Vitamin D to obtain adequate levels.
  9. Vitamin D fights the flu better then any vaccine.
  10. Many diseases and illnesses are greatly reduced, prevented, or helped by sufficient Vitamin D levels (and in contrast, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many of these):
  • Sufficient vitamin D prevents prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, depression, colon cancer and schizophrenia.
  • “Rickets” is the name of a bone-wasting disease caused by vitamin D deficiency.
  • Vitamin D deficiency may exacerbate type 2 diabetes and impair insulin production in the pancreas.
  • Vitamin D is used around the world to treat Psoriasis.
  • Vitamin D deficiency causes increase of colds and flu’s.
  • Vitamin D deficiency causes preeclampsia.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by a melatonin imbalance initiated by lack of exposure to sunlight.
  • Chronic vitamin D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia because its symptoms are so similar: muscle weakness, aches and pains.
  • Your risk of developing serious diseases like diabetes and cancer is reduced 50% – 80% through simple, sensible exposure to natural sunlight 2-3 times each week.
  • The majority of infants with vitamin D deficiency (78%) present with seizures.
  • Infants who receive vitamin D supplementation (2000 units daily) have an 80% reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes over the next twenty years.

What can you do?

  • Make sure to get outside every day in direct sunlight for 20-30 minutes (best around noon), and don’t wear sunscreen during this time!  Make sure your arms and your face aren’t covered by clothes!  Play with your kids, and schedule this time every day so you do not forget.  I like to do it right before nap time with my kids (and after lunch).  They get their vitamin D, they get tired (from the sun and running around), and then they are ready for nap!
  • Get your blood tested on a regular basis to know what your levels are.  You can go here to get tested without a doctor.  If they are 50on/ml and above then the body can store it for another use, but if it is less then that, the body will use it as rapidly as it comes.  So, optimum levels are between 50-80on/ml a day.
  • After you get tested, pick up a Vitamin D3 supplement (this is the one we use, and love– choose high quality supplements, there is a BIG difference)  you will know how much you need….but here are some basic guidelines:

Ideal  Range**  

Normal Daily Dose  

Birth to 6 months >40ng/mL^ 400IU/day
6 months to 5year >50ng/mL^ 1,000*IU per each 20lbs/day
5 year to 12 year >60ng/mL 3-4000 IU/day
12 year to adult >60ng/mL 5000 IU/day
Pregnant >60nm/mL 6,000 IU/day
Dark skinned adults >60ng/mL 5-6,000 IU/day

and these are the general recommendation for the first sign of illness:


Daily Dose for 7 days
Birth to 6 months 800IU/day
6 months to 3year 10,000IU/day
3 year to 5 year 25,000IU/day
5 year to 12 year 50,000 IU/day
12 year to adult 100,000 IU/day
Pregnant 25,000 IU/day
Dark skinned adults 100,000 IU/day

Sources (for more information):




The Vitamin D supplements I recommend for children and toddlers, and infants.


Carrington is a Christ follower, Wife and Mama to two adorable little ones.  She loves to write about family, marriage, faith and natural living at her blog Organic Life Love.


  1. Wow Carrington……what a dynamite addition to this blog! You may have changed some lives forever!

    I’ve always known how vitamin D is important…but you just blew me away with all this information. I almost cannot wait to step out at noon with my baby today!!!! Haha!!

    Question : I know you aren’t a doctor…but is it really okay to be out at noon for a half hour with my fair-skinned baby (and I) without sunscreen? I almost feel silly asking after all those benefits, yet am nervous since skin cancer is so huge to us Arizonians. (but probably since we are so extreme with getting our “tans-for-the-summer” in one day…haha)


    • Hey Kassie!

      Thank you so much!

      And that is a great question!

      My kiddos and I are VERY fair skinned, and we are out there for 20-30 minutes no problem. If they start to get pink before that, then just take them in! I would say to aim for at least 15 minutes.

      Risk of skin cancer from this amount of sun exposure is pretty much non-existent. Also, what we are now learning about skin cancer is that it is significantly linked to vitamin D deficiency. So it’s an ugly cycle- we load up on sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, and so the suncreen blocks Vit D, and then we get cancer! Taking vitamin D can (and getting it from the sun) can actually decrease your risk of skin cancer by up to 77%!

      Also, vitamin D deficiency is MUCH more serious, and carries much more of a risk of many more deadly things then actual skin cancer. We shouldn’t be so afraid of it, but we should be afraid of a lack of vitamin D!

  2. This article is great, however I feel it is very important to also know the dangers of overexposure to the sun. I wouldn’t be too quick to blame sunscreen for the causes of diseases, including cancer. I would say you definitely need a healthy amount of Vitamin D, which you can get from 5-10 minutes a day in the sun, and not even in the direct sun. Even just walking for 3 minutes at a time from your car to the store or from your house to your mailbox. A total of about 10 minutes is sufficient enough. If you are spending more than 30 minutes a day, especially during peak UV hours (10am-3pm) then you could be permanently damaging your skin. I have proof, very good proof from a dear family member. Wesley’s mom used to spend hours a day out in the sun, without sunscreen, and she had her fair share of sunburns. That was in her teenage years, before sunscreen was even recommended. Today, in her early 50’s (after not spending any extra time in the sun since her teen years), she now on a regular basis has to have actinic keratosis and basal cell carcinoma’s removed from her arms and chest. {That is skin cancer still within the skin and has not yet penetrated her skin or become malignant.} She has gone through multiple biopsies, procedures, and painful treatments for her skin cancer and she is forever regretful for spending too much time in the sun during her teen years.

    I just think it is very important to USE sunscreen and to use moderation when allowing your kids to play out in the direct sun during peak hours of the day. Yes they need their Vitamin D, and yes small doses of sun without protection may be safe, but the sun is very very VERY damaging and you don’t have to look long or hard to find the proof.




    • Oh, Moriah, that is horrible about your Mother in law, I’m so sorry!

      I agree that there are certainly health risks for sun exposure! I feel though, that everyone is pretty well aware of it, and even to the point of being scared of it so much that we never go outside with sunscreen! We’ve been told for years now not to go out without sunscreen, and so I am trying to draw attention to the other risks of going outside and constantly blocking your vitamin D intake.

      I’m certainly not recommending spending hours out in the sun, just 20-30 minutes, and like I told Kassie- to watch your skin and if you start to get pink at all to go in. I disagree that you don’t need to go out in peak hours (Arizona, and Florida *might* be the only exception), but many people living in states more north can only get vitamin D in those hours. And, I also disagree that you will get it from just walking to your car, etc.. I think if this was true, we wouldn’t see the statistics of vitamin D deficiency we do in this country (and even in Arizona, as evidence in the study I quoted).

      The information I wrote about it often going to go against traditional medical advice (which is why I said “10 things you probably didn’t know about Vitamin D” because we have learned so much more about vitamin D in the past few years, as new studies have come out), and the sunscreen industry and doctors recommendations have not quite caught up yet.

      We are also learning that diet is hugely related to skin damage, and some people that are light skinned and would usually burn instantly, found that after changing their diet to add healthy fats, and healthy oils, now no longer burn! (But that is a whole different post!)

      I wrote this post to draw attention to the risk of vitamin D deficiency (which DOES include many cancers, and other diseases, but is certainly not the only culprit), not to say- don’t wear sunscreen!

  3. Carrington,
    As always, so well researched and laid out for people to understand.

    I was told last year that I was Vitamin D deficient, which I suppose many of us are. It seems impossible living in AZ, but alas…

    I spent about 4 hours in the sun last summer at a water park. That whole month I had been racked with migraines and was worried about how I would feel in the sun all day. But I actually felt amazing. I was so shocked. 2 weeks later I was told I was D deficient. Now I know why I felt so great in the sun after hours.

    I take a supplement now, but I know I could do more. I’m glad you shared this information. It is simple, but can make such a difference.

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