The sun often gets a bad rap because we focus around protecting ourselves from the rays by lathering up on sunscreen. However, the sun is extremely important to internal wellness in the body. The sun is irreplaceable for Vitamin D production, without it, this process doesn't occur in the body.
When sunlight hits our skin, the UVB rays strike a reaction - a fatty acid (7-DHC) converts into D3 and enters our circulation system. When it arrives at our liver, enzymes process D3 into calcitriol (form of vitamin D) which is circulated by the kidneys.
Internally vitamin D controls our ability to absorb and use calcium and phosphate in the body. Without it, bone density suffers, and osteoporosis risk increases.
Although we need the sun to produce vitamin D in the body, it is not always a resource that's available. Depending on the climate you live in, the job you have, the time of year, etc. it is likely you aren't exposing yourself to enough sunlight. Food and supplements can aid in restoring vitamin D levels to the appropriate threshold.
- Fatty Fish: Salmon, Tuna + Mackerel
- Beef Liver
- Egg Yolks
- Fortified Foods
What might come as a surprise is that taking a vitamin D supplement was more effective than sun exposure. However, the difference between results of vitamin D supplements and sun exposure was lower in studies where long-term sun exposure was seen or applied UVB treatment instead of direct sunlight. Based on our lifestyles, environmental factors, chronic illness and body weight, the chance of you producing the adequate amount of vitamin D could be low (due to your lack of exposure to the sun). Supplements are a great way to get the necessary amount, however if you take to much you can have symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. Check with your physician to ensure you are getting the right about of vitamin D.
There is not a replacement for the process of vitamin D production in the body. Although it may not fill the vitamin D tank (so to speak), being in the sunlight can also contribute to other areas of overall wellness. In our upcoming blog we will discuss the practice of sun bathing.