As reported by Reuters health, a new study by Harvard University health researchers has found that men with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D are more susceptible to heart attacks, especially fatal heart attacks.
Vitamin D improves calcium absorption and is important for bone health and to prevent osteoporosis. In addition, adequate vitamin D seems to offer protection against other diseases such as cancers of the colon, breast and perhaps pancreas. The lower level of normal is 30 nanograms per millilitre of blood. The men with the greatest risk in this study had levels as low as 15 nanograms.
What you need to know
Vitamin D is formed in the skin from sunlight exposure — and is available in fortified milk and margarine products and fatty fish like salmon and sardines. Sunscreen will block vitamin D absorption so it’s important to ensure a balance between sunlight exposure and the skin cancer risk of overexposure and sunburn. Supplements are an option, but you need to get medical advice because too much can be toxic.
Personally, I try to get as much gentle sun exposure in the early hours in summer or in winter when sunburn risk is least. I do this at the beach or by training outdoors. Tanning booths are not recommended and can be dangerous.