Today is the first day of fall and while I am looking forward to pumpkin patches, warm drinks and soups, and the changing colors, it is still sunny and 88 degrees here in Frisco, TX. So I am taking this opportunity to soak up as much ‘summer’ and sunlight as I can. Personally, I don’t need an excuse to go lay out in the sun, but I do understand that not everyone is like me. Here are a few great reasons to soak up the sun and store up your vitamin D. Studies show that this hormone-like vitamin can help protect you from the cold and flu, depression, hypertension, diabetes, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Safe and adequate vitamin D intake has also been shown to lower your risk of certain types of cancer. So contrary to popular belief, exposing (but never burning) the skin to natural sunlight is good for us!
Our bodies were created to absorb vitamin D through sun exposure. There are very few natural or fortified foods (such as vitamin D fortified milk) that have enough therapeutic levels of vitamin D to support your health needs. Although the amount of sun exposure we need varies for each individual, 10-30 minutes of full body (or as much as possible) exposure will do it. Here are a few tips on how to get enough sunlight and vitamin D.
- Start slowly with sun exposure on as much of your skin as possible.
- Do not allow any reddening of the skin to occur.
- Work up to 15-30 minutes 3-4 times per week. Remember, the amount of sun exposure necessary to raise vitamin D levels varies with the amount of pigment in the skin. People with darker skin require more sun exposure than those with fair skin.
- The skin around your eyes is very thin and sensitive. For these reasons, it doesn’t play a huge part in the absorption of vitamin D. Wear a hat or sunglasses to protect this fragile area.
- Don’t wear any sunscreen or lotion with an SPF for this time period. Any SPF will block the sun’s UVB rays and will keep the body from producing vitamin D. After this time period, you can stay in the shade, wear protective clothing or use a NON-TOXIC sunscreen to protect your skin.
Remember, the vitamin D that your body makes in the summer actually gets stored up under your skin for the winter. So make sure you take advantage of all the health benefits that the fall sun has to offer!