How Vitamin D and Sunshine Can Increase Your Health
If you grew up in the 90’s and 2000’s, like me, I am sure you remember being constantly warned about the dangers of going out in the sun. Being a fair skinned person, I was especially worried! This led to many years of slathering on sunscreen (not the toxin free type either!) and spending the majority of my time in the shade. I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover when I was in school for naturopathic medicine, that I was deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, is fat soluble, meaning it can be stored within the body and used at a later date. Our best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. When sunlight hits your exposed skin it produces Vitamin D3 which gets carried to your liver and then your kidneys where it is transformed into active Vitamin D.
Low Levels of Vitamin D Have Been Linked To:
- Lowered Immunity
- Increased Risk of Heart Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Colon Cancer
- High Blood Pressure
For those of us living in Canada, it is not possible for us to make Vitamin D via our skin between October and May as the sun is not at the right angle, nor strong enough, for Vitamin D production. The best way to safely increase your Vitamin D level is by spending 15 minutes a day in the sun, without wearing sunscreen, from May to October with some exposed skin; for example, arms, stomach, and/or legs. Most people living in Canada can benefit from supplementing with 1000 IU/ day of Vitamin D from October until May. Supplementing with Vitamin D at this amount will not for increase blood levels of Vitamin D, but it does help prevent your levels from getting lower.
There is more to the power of the sun then just Vitamin D. A recent study showed that lack of exposure to the sun is as bad for your health as smoking! This is even after taking into account the increased skin cancer risk. This makes sense as most plants and animals rely on the sun for their energy and health. It was remiss of us to think that humans did not also benefit from this exposure.
How To Safely Get Sun Exposure
- Spend at least 15 minutes daily in the sun with unprotected skin (arms, legs, stomach)
- Avoid prolonged (more than 30 min) sun exposure between the hours of 11-3pm
- Build up your body’s exposure to the sun gradually from May to October
- Alternate between sun and shade
I hope you are out enjoying your summer and getting some safe sun exposure!
Dr Alexis practices in Ottawa at Life Therapies. To book an appointment visit www.lifetherapies.ca or call 613.422.8939