Vitamin D: Not Enough in Rhode Island

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


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When you're talking bone health, you're talking getting enough calcium and Vitamin D, which is crucial for calcium absorption.  And for many folks living in the United States, just coming and going from the outdoors and creating Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, does the trick.

Not in Rhode Island. 

"There's a huge epidemic of Vitamin D lack," says Geetha Gopalakrishnan, MD, director of the Bone Health Program at Women and Infants Hospital.  Only some ultraviolet (UV) rays prompt the body to create Vitamin D, Gopalakrishnan says, and in New England we don't have the right ones for conversion, particularly in the winter. 

And in the summer, as we slather up with sunscreen (for skin cancer prevention) before heading out to Narragansett for the day, we're actually inhibiting our ability to make Vitamin D and absorb calcium. 

The answer?  Vitamin D supplementation in the winter, and a little smart sun dosing in the summer.  "Go out in the sun for 10 minutes with your hands, face, and arms exposed, without sunscreen," Gopalakrishnan says, "just three times a week.  That will give you essentially what you need."

And on the way to the beach, pick up that skim-milk coffee cabinet, for a good hit of calcium. 

Photo: Carlie Wiener

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