6 Reasons Why Sunshine Is Good for You!

Hint: Your Body Uses It To Make Vitamin D

There’s a reason why vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin.” Our amazing bodies must know that it’s important for our health, because they produce it in response to sun exposure, specifically UVB rays.

Below are some of the reasons why vitamin D is so important and how to be sure you’re getting enough.

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

  1. Helps maintain healthy bones and teeth
  2. Supports the health of the immune system, brain and nervous system
  3. Regulates insulin levels and aids diabetes management
  4. Supports lung function and cardiovascular health
  5. Reduces inflammation
  6. May play a role in the prevention of colon, prostate and breast cancers

But if you’re like most people (including me), you may find it difficult to get enough vitamin D. In fact, one study reports a worldwide epidemic in vitamin D deficiency, even in areas with plenty of sunshine. And for those who are older or who have darker skin pigmentation, getting enough vitamin D can be especially challenging.

While study is ongoing, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, weight gain, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma severity, rickets and even swine flu.

How to Get Enough Vitamin D

OK, so knowing how important it is to get vitamin D—and that most people don’t get enough—what can you do to help ensure an adequate daily supply of vitamin D? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Whenever possible, choose food high in vitamin D such as: wild-caught salmon, trout, mackerel, canned tuna and eel; egg yolks; mushroom grown in ultra-violet light; cereals, dairy products and orange juices fortified with vitamin D; and beef or calf liver.
  2. Supplement with a good multivitamin or cod-liver oil. Check with your doctor before choosing a dosage; too much vitamin D can be toxic.
  3. Good ole sunshine! Anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes of unprotected exposure two or three times a week should be enough. But beware of over-exposure: Too much sun can do some serious damage, so you’ll want to use a good mineral-based sunscreen if you’re going to be outdoors longer than 20 – 25 minutes. (Note: chemical-based sunscreens can absorb into the bloodstream.)

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Between 50% and 90% of vitamin D in our bodies is produced by the skin’s exposure to the sun, with the remainder coming from our diet. According to Dr. Michael Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at the Boston University Medical Campus, summer sun between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. is best. “If your shadow is longer than your body height, you can’t make any vitamin D,” he said.

comment_2Do you like to bask in the sun? What are some of your favorite memories (or warnings)? We’d love to hear about them. Please share with other readers in the comments below.

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