The first day of Summer is officially here and that means sunny days outdoors, tan lines and cookouts. We all probably know that with the sun comes vitamin D. But what does vitamin D do for our bodies? And how do we get it?

Let's find out.

Functions and roles of vitamin D

beer, coffee
Michelle Zabat

1.  Vitamin D helps your body absorb vitamin C to build and keep bones strong. 

2.  It also blocks the release of parathyroid hormone, which reabsorbs bone tissue and makes bones brittle.

3.  Vitamin D Can also play a role in the immune system to protect you from infections and illness.

4. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there is research, and controversy, about vitamin D and the possibility that it can help prevent colon, prostate and breast cancers. 

What are sources of Vitamin D?

cake, beer, tea
Julia Murphy

1.  The sun. When you are exposed to sunshine, your skin makes vitamin D. The amount of vitamin D made varies based on the season, time of day, cloud cover or air pollution, and how close you are to the equator. 

However, too much exposure to the sun can increase your risk of skin cancer

fish, seafood, ice, mackerel
Erin Thomas

2.  Your diet. There are many foods that contain vitamin D. The foods that have the most vitamin D are swordfish (566 IU/3 oz), salmon (477 IU/3 oz), tuna (154 IU/3 oz), sardines (46 IU/3 oz) and beef liver (42 IU/3 oz). You can purchase vitamin D fortified orange juice, milk and yogurt if you don't like or want to consume fish.

3. Supplements. Sometimes getting enough vitamin D from your diet is difficult so supplements may be needed. 

So how much vitamin D do you need?

The Daily Recommended Intake of vitamin D for most people 9 - 70 years old is 600 IU/day.

Vitamin D is important for bone health and immune system. Your skin makes vitamin D when exposed to sunshine, but keep in mind the dangers of too much sun exposure and consider some of the food sources to stay healthy.