Vitamin D: AKA Sunshine Vitamin

vitamin d sunlightVitamin D is sometimes called the “Sunshine Vitamin” because the easiest way to obtain the amount necessary for our body is through sun exposure. This vitamin is found in a very low percentage of foods.

The summer campaigns warning of the harmful effects of solar overexposure have triggered overprotection towards the Sun, silencing almost completely the beneficial effects of sunlight.

Even in some Countries where the preferred destination is a “Sun and Beach Tourism”, around 50% of the population is within the deficiency parameters of this vitamin.

Why this deficiency? On the one hand the use of sunscreen. A protection factor above 8 does not allow the passage of UV B rays from the Sun, which allows the synthesis of vitamin D. And on the other hand, the change of habits, nowadays we spend generally a bit part of or lives in closed spaces with a complete lack of sun exposure.

Think about our grandparents. Many worked in the fields or went shopping at the local open-air market, walking or cycling as their usual transportation. All things that you don’t easily associate with our present society: we work in closed office space with air conditioning, choosing big supermarkets too often, and the car has become essential in our trips. 

VITAMIN D: the key to our health

Traditionally, this vitamin has only been given functions related to proper bone health as it helps the absorption of calcium, very important both in the growth phase of children or adolescents, and in the later stage of life when optimal bone density can be compromised. But it also has many other very important functions such as modulating the immune system making us more resistant to the action of pathogens, improving mood, and maintaining correct muscle tone by generating glycogen in sufficient quantity to recover after physical effort. 

If you want a quality life: LIE in the sun, it is how vitamin D is best synthesized.

The inclination of the sun’s rays is an important factor to remember: The best hours are when our shadow is NOT greater than our silhouette. That is why in winter we will need more hours of sun than in summer.

The exposure time will depend on:

  • Type of skin. Darker skin needs more exposure time to synthesize vitamin D since melanin acts as a natural barrier.
  • The amount of skin exposed to the sunlight 
  • Age: Over 50 synthesize 25% less vitamin D

The perfect recipe

Sunbathe in the appropriate time frames and do not exceed the correct time of exposure (check in this link the Global Solar UV Index).

During this exposure avoid using sunscreen (try instead coconut oil, which is an excellent vegan option to hydrate your skin). 

Only if you are going to extend your sun exposure beyond these parameters, choose to cover your skin or to use a chemical-free sunscreen. Remember that chemicals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are very harmful. 

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