Have you taken a moment today, to step outside and feel the warmth of the sun against your skin? The glowing rays that make contact with your skin are doing wonders for your health. When sunlight hits your skin, vitamin D synthesis begins. Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, also known as a hormone, has many important jobs to fulfill to keep your body and mind, healthy and strong.
Vitamin D is responsible for:
- proper cell growth and function
- calcium absorption
- hormone balance
- weight management
- healthy nerve and immune health
- regulating the immune system
- releasing neurotransmitters (i.e. dopamine, serotonin) that are important for healthy brain function and development
- helping to reduce inflammation
- promoting healthy absorption of calcium
- helping to build and repair bones
- promoting healthy bones and teeth
regulating insulin levels (important for those with diabetes)
Take time to notice how happy you are after being out in the sun. Your body is naturally designed to get the vitamin D needed for healthy growth and function by skin exposure to sunlight. Cholecalciferol, also known as vitamin D3, is made in your skin when exposed to sunlight. Depending on your skin’s pigmentation, this will affect how long you may need sun exposure to absorb the ultraviolet B (UVB) from the sun to effectively receive what your body needs.
Vitamin D can also be found in many foods such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, fish liver oils, mushrooms, beef liver, egg yolks, cheese, and fortified foods.
Without proper vitamin D in our diets or healthy exposure to sunlight, deficiencies, disorders, and unhealthy mood behaviors may occur.
Vitamin D deficiency may lead to:
- increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- cognitive impairments, cancer
- bone pain and weakness
- frequent bone fractures
- soft bones that may lead to deformities
- muscle aches and weakness
- exhaustion and fatigue
- increased risk of becoming overweight and possible obesity
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, when an adult, after being exposed to the sun, produces a slight pinkish color to the skin, the skin synthesized an equivalent amount of vitamin D as if ingesting 10,000 and 25,000 IU of vitamin D through food and/or supplementation.
Let’s put this into perspective:
- 1 tsp Cod Liver Oil: 440 IU (over 100% Daily Value)
- 3 oz Salmon: 400 IU (100% DV)
- 3 oz Tuna: 228 IU (57% DV)
- 1 large egg: 41 IU (10% DV)
Enjoy the sun and be grateful for every moment. Use healthy amounts of sunscreen when needed, and be mindful you are not in the sun too long to the point of becoming too red or burnt. Remember, sometimes less is more.
Speak to your doctor or health care practitioner before self-diagnosing or supplementing.