Soaking up the sun (with SPF of course), can do more than give your body a radiant glow. Countless studies have uncovered the impact the sun has on our overall wellness, proving how truly beneficial even just 5-15 minutes of direct sunlight* two to three days a week can affect our mental and physical health. Aside from regular skin examinations and daily use of sunscreen, there are numerous ways to maintain a healthy relationship with natural Vitamin D in order to receive its near-immediate benefits. Below we note some of the top reasons to step into the light, as well as some of our favorite non-toxic products that will help you do so with ease and safety.
*Please note: If you plan on being in the sun for longer than the daily recommended time, be sure to apply sunscreen.
What we get naturally from the sun:
The sun’s ultra violet rays crate Vitamin D in our body, which is essential for many bodily functions and prevention of common ailments, including:
- Improved bone health
- Improved immune support
- Protection against dementia and brain aging
- Prevention of excess body fat
- Improved health of our teeth
- Decreased asthma symptoms
Benefits of daily, moderate sun exposure (while wearing sunscreen!) on our mental and physical health:
Increased Vitamin D: Vitamin D promotes reduced inflammation and modulates cell growth. It only takes 5-10 minutes of exposure — while wearing sunscreen — to natural sunlight to gain the benefits.
Improved Mood: Sunlight deprivation is REAL. A lack of sun and nature cause us to feel down and depressed, increasing any symptoms of depression and anxiety. Stepping out for a walk in the middle of the workday can literally help us achieve a “sunnier disposition.” Grab a hat, apply that SPF and take a stroll.
Better Sleep: Not only does sun-sourced serotonin improve our mood, but it can also help calm your mind when it’s time to catch some zzz’s.
Sun’s light can help calm inflamed skin: If you’re suffering from psoriasis, acne, eczema or fungal infections, take a few moments to step into the sun.
Sunlight can lower cholesterol: Just 10-15 minutes of exposure to the sun can lower blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure.
Sunlight increases oxygen content in human blood: The sun can impact our stamina, fitness and muscular development, as exposure can enhance our bodies capacity to deliver oxygen to the tissue, similar to he effects of exercise.
Sunlight can build a stronger Immune System: White blood cells increase with sun exposure, and these play a major role in defending the body against infections.
According to HumNutrition.com, Harvard's School of Public Health reports that an estimated 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D.
This report also cites several studies that link vitamin D levels with bone strength, muscle retention, heart health, and the immune system. Studies have also shown that Vitamin D can boost elasticity and collagen production in the skin while also reducing the appearance of lines, dark spots and acne. Clinical trials surmised vitamin D supplements can be particularly beneficial to older women.**
Symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency include:
- Brittle bones
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Bone and muscle aches
- Depression and anxiety
- Difficulty healing
- Stomach issues: bloat, gas, etc.
- Hair loss
If any of the above symptoms sound familiar, ask your doctor to run a simple blood test to determine your current serum level.
**Source: "Vitamin D and Health." Harvard School of Public Health. Robbins JA, et al. "Women's Health Initiative clinical trials: interaction of calcium and vitamin D with hormone therapy." Menopause. February 2014. PubMed. NCBI. NLM. NHI.
Do you still have to take a Vitamin D supplement during the summer months?
If you were to supplement natural sun exposure with Vitamin D during summer months, the max amount to supplement with if you do not have a known deficiency and are not being monitored by a physician is 600 IUs, as recommended by the National Institutes of Health.
Here’s how we protect our skin copal beauty:
*Some information sourced from MindBodyGreen