- VITAMIN D-

Vitamin D has become something of a hot topic over the last few years - and for good reason. Vitamin D is actually a hormone produced by your kidneys and plays an important role in your blood calcium concentration and your immune function. The only natural way to get this vitamin is for your body to produce it after exposure to sunlight. Of course this isn’t always possible for everyone depending on job situations, season of the year, and area in which you live. In many cases, supplementing with a Vitamin D3 spray is extremely beneficial when sunlight exposure is limited or not accessible. 

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However, now that it is summer most of us DO have access to sunnier weather. Getting any nutrient in its most whole form is always superior to a fragmented version found in a supplement. Not that supplements can’t be useful or beneficial but getting nutrients the way nature designed us to get them trumps all. Simply getting 10-30 minutes of sun exposure (where at least our arms, legs, and belly are exposed) daily is enough to meet your requirements in most cases. Some factors that can sway this are skin color, age, weight, sun screen, and air pollution. The darker your skin color the more sun exposure you need for your body. The older you are, the more sun exposure you need as well because your body converts it at a slower rate to vitamin D. The more adipose tissue you have, the less bioavailable vitamin D becomes in your body, meaning you need a higher amount. Using sun screen can also diminish the UVB rays your skin can absorb and thereby convert to Vitamin D. Using sunscreen if you are planning on prolonged exposure to the sun is not a bad thing. However, you do not need to apply sunscreen if you are only going to be outside for 10-30 minutes. You will also want to make sure you are using a clean sunscreen - and most mainstream brands are not. The sun screen can not only be toxic to you (your skin is your largest organ) but also washes off in the water and can be toxic to the wildlife living in it as well. Some great brands are Beauty Counter, Juice Beauty, and Badger. Finally, the more air pollution in your city there is, the less UVB rays you receive to make vitamin D as well. 

Some of my favorite ways to get sunlight are to sit in my back yard and eat my lunch if I’m able to eat at home. I also love going for long walks with my fluffy sidekick, going to the beach with my family, or even just reading a book on the grass at a local park. I sometimes even workout outside or go play tennis or ride my bike. I like to do a lot of little things that put me outside everyday. 

And if you’re wondering why Vitamin D is so stinking important, here is what it helps with:

  • prevents autoimmune disorders (low levels are correlated with an increased risk of autoimmune diseases). Also the prevalence of autoimmune diseases are more concentrated the further you stray from the equator

  • prevents osteoporosis by regulating the calcium levels in your blood (if blood is low in calcium it will leech it from your bones)

  • decreases risk of heart disease and hypertension

  • decreases risk of depression and cognitive impairment. Honestly, who doesn’t feel better after connecting with nature!

  • decreases risk of Type 2 diabetes- this effect is even stronger when coupled with exercise outside!

  • decreased risk of cancer

Don’t be afraid of the sun! Exercise general safety precautions, especially if planning on prolonged sun exposure, but get out there and get your vitamin D. Your body will thank you!