We all pretty much know we feel better outside — there’s just something refreshing about being out in nature. Turns out rhere are good reasons for this.
Vitamin D (some of which is ingested in the diet but 90-95% of which comes from sunlight) has been the darling of the nutritional world for years now. Here’s why.
The Benefits of Vitamin D
- It’s Anti-Cancer. Over 2000 studies link deficiency of Vitamin D to cancer, and this study suggests that keeping Vitamin D levels at just 40 ng/mL lowers overall cancer risk by about 77%. This paper suggests that a serum level of 55–60 ng/mL may reduce the breast cancer rate by half in temperate climates.
- It lowers the risk of diabetes. Turns out, vitamin D status is linked more closely to diabetes than is obesity.
- It lowers the risk of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS occurs a lot less often in sunny places than in dark and gloomy ones.
- It reduces PMS and period cramping. Apparently Vitamin D is anti-inflammatory, or at least that is the implication. And actually, this suggests ANY inflammatory condition can improve with a healthy dose of Vitamin D.
The sun does more than just boost your Vitamin D levels, though.
Other benefits of the sun:
- It makes you happy. Some forms of depression are directly linked to low Vitamin D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but even aside from that, sun exposure boosts serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter.
- It lowers blood pressure. This study shows that exposure to UVB rays increases production if nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to dilate, thus lowering blood pressure.
- It helps you sleep. Exposure to sunlight early in the morning helps your body to produce melatonin earlier, making it easier to sleep at the end of the day.
The Take-Home Message:
Spend 5-15 minutes a day in the sun, without sunblock, three times per week in the spring and summertime (and an hour in the winter). Longer sun exposures aren’t necessary—there are diminishing returns after that point, increasing the risk of aging from the sun and skin cancers, but not improving Vitamin D Status.
This will help to boost your Vitamin D levels, boost your serotonin, boost your nitric oxide, lower inflammation, and generally make you healthier!
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