Why You Need Sun Exposure
The sun and the exposure to its ultraviolet B (UBV) rays is extremely important for our health. Especially during a pandemic, it is incredibly important to be cognizant of how much sun exposure you are getting. There are a few reasons why people are more likely to get sick in the fall and winter — less access to natural vitamin D (sun exposure) is definitely one of them. It is estimated that 26% of people have low levels of vitamin D, which is quite a startling number for something that can be improved with minimal effort.
SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY CAN INCLUDE:
weak or brittle bones, or osteoporosis
weak immune function (which after long periods of time can contribute to cancers and autoimmune disease)
Even on a healthy, balanced diet, nutrition only makes up about 5% of our vitamin D needs. When we are exposed to the sunlight the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit our cholesterol cells on the surface of our skin which convert to vitamin D. UVB rays cannot flow through windows, so getting outside is important. It is recommended that you spend at least 15 minutes a day in direct sunlight. “Studies estimate that darker-skinned people may need anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours longer to get sufficient vitamin D.”(1) The pigment of your skin is determined by the amount of melanin your have, meaning the darker your skin color the more melanin you have. While melanin helps protect the skin from burning, it also means that the more you have the more sun exposure you need.
But be careful not to burn. Sun exposure should always be monitored. While small doses are immensely helpful to our heath, too much, too often puts us at risk for skin cancer. It is important to not let your skin burn. “New theories suggest that our immune system constantly fights melanoma cancer cells all over the body, but a sunburn keeps our immune system so busy that cancer cannot be sufficiently warded off in another part of the body.”(2) Which explains why people with melanoma mysteriously are affected in areas that have little to no sun exposure at all, like the soles of the feet.
If you find yourself cooped up indoors too often, try moving some of your normal activities outside. You can read a book, practice yoga, or even scroll through your Instagram feed all in the sun.
OTHER WAYS TO GET VITAMIN D
cod liver oil
vitamin D supplements
As always, before changing your diet or supplement usage, please consult with your personal healthcare professional.