Do you realize that the Sun is a necessary component in our lives? On the macrocosmic scale the Sun provides life on earth, without it we would have a very different life or possibly no life. Contemplate for a moment all the benefits the Sun has. I have done this recently and find it amazing how dependent my life is on the Sun. The Sun is life giving! Now if we bring this awareness to the microcosm of our body the same is true. The Sun plays a very important role in vitamin D production. When the rays of the sun hit our skin it triggers vitamin D synthesis. The body then takes that form of vitamin D and converts it into two active forms, calcidiol and calcitriol, the conversions occur in the liver and kidneys respectively. From there it is ready to aid and assist our body.
Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium in our digestive tract, is needed for bone growth, modulates cell growth, plays a role in the immune system as well as the nerve and muscle functioning and decreases inflammation. Everyone from infants to the elderly need vitamin D and at some stages of life we may need more. Hence the importance of vitamin D!
How do we get vitamin D? The ideal way is to have exposure to the sun. Depending upon your skin type, where you live and the time of year will determine how much sun time you need. A good rule of thumb is to estimate how long it will take you to get pink and then spend 25-50% of the time in the sun between the hours of 11:00 AM and 3:00 pm. Exposing your arms and legs are the easiest unless you are at the beach! If you are in the sun longer than this time it is advisable to either cover up with light clothing, stay in the shade or apply a natural non-toxic sunscreen. The Environmental Working Group has a list of sunscreens and their safety level. It is just as important to consider the chemicals that you are putting on your body to avoid sun damage as they can have other health consequences.
To determine your vitamin D levels I recommend measuring serum 25-OH(D). I prefer values to be at 50 - 100 nmol/L. If you are low I may recommend a supplement to give your body a boost. Also, during those winter months it is important to supplement especially if you are living at the higher latitudes.
If you are curious what your vitamin D levels are or would like support with getting your body in balance give the office a call and schedule your appointment. In the meantime when you are outside in the sun take the time to soak it in and appreciate all that it does for you!