It’s not only the nice feeling of warmth and happiness that the sun brings out in us. Having the sun beams stroking our skin has benefits and they are called vitamin D! The direct sunlight on our skin triggers a reaction in the cells and that reaction is the formation of vitamin D.
Vitamin D has a few VERY important functions – it helps absorb and regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body which the body needs to keep the bones and teeth healthy. It also supports the immune system.
Furthermore, a wide variety of studies have discovered that vitamin D even goes way beyond that. Researchers have discovered that it is active in many tissues and controls an enormous number of genes including some associated with non-skin cancer, autoimmune disease and infection. A recent study has identified that sufficient levels of the vitamin reduces the risk of heart attack and extends lifespan.
But how much sun is enough?
Short daily periods of sun exposure (about 10-15mins) are enough for most people. However, if you are dark-skinned you may need longer than that and the larger the area of skin exposed to sun, the better. You can boost your vitamin D levels through diet also, although it is not as effective as direct sunlight. Oily fish (salmon, sardines and mackerel), eggs, fortified fat spreads, fortified breakfast cereals, and powdered milk, are all good sources of vitamin D.
Now the clear skies allow us to bathe in the sunlight so don’t miss out on the opportunity to do so! Hit the nearest park because you don’t know when we will get the chance again!
Written by Dr. Noel Duncan