What is it about the sunshine that makes us feel good?
Is it the light, the warmth…or is it the much-needed vitamin D?
Turns out, it’s all three, but the one many might not be aware of is that the sun is our primary source of Vitamin D.
So what is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a nutrient that allows our bodies to absorb calcium, which is one of the main building blocks for strong bones. Combined with calcium, Vitamin D helps protect us from osteoporosis. This vitamin is also critical for other functions like our immune system. Vitamin D also helps protect the body from cancer and heart disease, it can aid in weight loss, and it can help in the treatment of depression.
Based on research, it is estimated that our endocrine system and over 1,000 genes in the human body are impacted by vitamin D. And this impact on our bodies, has a direct correlation to our mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. More often than not, a vitamin D deficiency will worsen psychiatric symptoms regarding depression and bipolar disorder. Therefore raising Vitamin D levels can be critical.
Just like the earth needs the sun to flourish and survive, our bodies need the sun to make vitamin D. However, when it’s cloudy or dark during the winter months, this can be a little more challenging.
Fortunately, studies have shown that most people’s bodies can get enough Vitamin D from being out in the sunshine for short periods of time, and can store up the vitamin from the time spent in the sun during the warmer months. The nutrient is absorbed into the body through the exposure of their forearms, hands, and legs- primarily between the sunnier months between March and September. And especially between the hours of 11 am to 3 pm.
When it comes to vitamin D absorption, one thing that can be a little tricky is that it needs to enter through bare skin- meaning, hold off on the sunscreen. However, this should be limited to as little as 10 minutes, and only as long as 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the time you spend exposing your skin to sunlight should be limited based on how sensitive your skin is. That being said, the body can absorb Vitamin D with sunscreen like SPF 15, it’s just not as easy for it to do so.
So next time it’s a sunny day, go outside and spend a few minutes letting your body soak up the sun and the Vitamin D that comes with it.