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Feed Your Face: A Vitamin That's Essential for Health and Beauty

By Dr Jessica Wu

Vitamin D is an important nutrient. It’s also the only vitamin that the body can produce on its own — with the help of sunlight. But the sun can also damage our skin. As I’ve said before, I like to have a tan, but I’m not willing to risk skin cancer, wrinkles, and brown splotches for it, which is why I'm always on the lookout for good ways to fake it. The problem with using sunscreens, though, is that although they protect our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, they may prevent our bodies from making enough vitamin D.

The good news is that we can protect our skin from the sun and enjoy the health and beauty benefits of vitamin D by eating foods like salmon, sardines, mackerel, cod liver oil, shiitake mushrooms, and vitamin D–fortified yogurts and cereals.

Vitamin D benefits us in many ways. It contributes to strong bones and teeth as well as healthy muscles, and it helps the body absorb calcium. It also helps prevent (or helps treat) a number of health conditions, including arthritis, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and seasonal affective disorder.

In addition, did you know that some of the bones in your face (like your jawbone) shrink over time? When this happens, your facial muscles and tissues start sinking; this whole process worsens wrinkles, makes your cheeks look hollow, and accentuates jowls, so be sure to get enough vitamin D to keep your bones strong! If you’re not getting enough D through the foods you eat, you might want to consider taking a supplement. As with any supplement, talk to your doctor first about the dose you should take, and ask him or her about having your vitamin D level tested at your next physical exam

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