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Vanessa Hoines: The sunshine vitamin: Vitamin D

Vanessa Hoines: The sunshine vitamin: Vitamin D

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With summer here, being outdoors is a great way to spend your time. Not only can sunshine make us happier, but it also is a source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because our bodies are able to make vitamin D from sunlight.

Some people may believe that using a tanning bed or other type of artificial sun exposure helps produce vitamin D. However, sunlight is unique in that it has special properties (ultraviolet B photons) not found in the tanning beds that allow for vitamin D to be made in our bodies.

Research varies on the amount of sun needed to make vitamin D. Skin type, geographic location, time of day and the season all have an impact on the sun’s effect on vitamin D. A safe estimate of five to 15 minutes in the sun, with sunscreen, a few days a week should be enough.

Vitamin D is an important vitamin in our day-to-day lives. The roles of vitamin D include promoting bone formation and strength; strengthening the immune system; improving muscle function and regulating blood pressure.

While vitamin D can come from the sun, it is found in higher amounts in food sources. Vitamin D is not found in a lot of foods. Some examples of foods that have vitamin D are tuna, salmon, mushrooms, eggs, fortified cereals, fortified milk and orange juice.

Although the sun can help make vitamin D, you must wear sunscreen and limit your time in the sun to keep safe. Too much exposure from ultraviolet light can have harmful effects such as skin cancer.

What can you do in your community to promote good health for adults and children?

  • Be sure to demonstrate to children how to put on sunscreen and how much they need.
  • Have a sun safety day to teach children the importance of sunscreen and shade.
  • Sun safety also is important for adults. Explaining the importance of being safe from the sun includes protection against skin cancer and keeping your skin healthy.

Check out this resource about how to stay safe from the sun:

For more information about vitamin D and recipe ideas, visit:

This “breakfast on the go” is rich in potassium, and vitamins D and C.

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

1 medium frozen banana, previously peeled and sliced

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

½ c. vitamin D fortified orange juice

¾ c. vitamin D fortified vanilla Greek low-fat yogurt

1 orange, peeled and sliced

6-8 ice cubes - optional

Whirl all ingredients together in blender. Makes two servings.

Each serving has 190 calories, 1.5 grams (g) fat, 6 g protein, 41 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 60 milligrams sodium and about 10% of the daily recommendation for vitamin D.

Upcoming NDSU Extension events

Call 701-667-3342 for help gaining access to virtual events or visit for more information.

Wednesday – Good Bugs Webinar, 9:30 a.m.

Thursday – 4-H Consumer Decision Making, Mandan.

June 16-18 and 23-25 – Kids Cooking Camp, registration required.

June 24 – Navigating Drought Webinar, 1 p.m.

June 28 and 29 – My First Business: Babysitting, Mandan. Registration required.

June 30 – Mental Health First Aid Training, Bismarck. Registration required.

Vanessa Hoines is an extension agent with NDSU Extension/Morton County. She holds a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science education and food and nutrition and a master’s degree in child development and family science.


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