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The Power of the Sun & Getting Sunshine Everyday

Vitamin D became my best friend after I learned about photosynthesis and the health benefits of the sun in the fourth grade. At the tender age of 8, I learned that photosynthesis is a process in which green plants use the sunlight to make their own food. I also learned that plants are living beings just like us, the human race.

Although it is hard to detect photosynthesis in our bodies, it’s happening all around us. Just think, as you feel the warm sunlight on your skin, your body is receiving some of its key benefits - vitamin D and the happy hormone serotonin.

Just Right: The Sun Equilibrium

According to SCL Health, spending a few extra minutes every day to take in some sunshine has five key health benefits, which include (but are not only limited to):

  • reducing depression

  • relieving pain

  • promoting relaxation

  • assists in wound healing

  • boosting the immune system

An added bonus: we get vitamin D from the sun, too! Receiving adequate amounts of vitamin D promotes good calcium stores, which supports healthy bone development, maintenance, and recovery. It also reduces inflammation and supports both the immune system and glucose metabolism.

Not a fan of sunbathing?, That’s okay! You can still receive the same vitamin D benefits and more by eating a handful of these vitamin-d reach foods:

  • salmon

  • cod liver oil

  • beef liver

  • swordfish

  • canned tuna

  • sardines

  • egg yolks

Healthy “Vitamin D Food” Disclaimer: Given the fact that all foods are not created equal and some of these foods may sound more appetizing than others, it is important to note that if you opt to avoid sun exposure and get your vitamin D solely from food sources, you would need to be eating these vitamin D-rich foods almost every day to meet the recommended dietary intake for vitamin D. The recommended dietary allowance a day for adults under 70 years of age is 600 IU. To put that into perspective, one typical egg yolk contains 37 IU of vitamin D.

Having trouble sleeping? No problem! Sun exposure also supports better sleep, adjusting your circadian rhythm by regulating the levels of melatonin and serotonin. According to Medical News Today, sunlight releases the happy hormone, serotonin in your brain that can help keep you feeling more focused, positive, and calm.

Too Much Sun

Getting too much sun can be dangerous for your skin! You don’t need to be out in the sun baking for an hour, 5-15 minutes of sunlight exposure on your face, hands, and arms will do the trick. Ways to incorporate healthy sun exposure habits include (but are not limited to): walking on your lunch break or eating outside, managing outdoor tasks in the early afternoon, and taking typical indoor activities outside like reading or catching up on emails.

Too Little Sun

Not getting enough sun exposure can also put you and your wellbeing in the danger zone! According to Healthline, more than 40% of American adults are vitamin D deficient.

When we are vitamin D deficient, we can face serious consequences such as: depression, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, cancer, and/or death.

It is also important to remember that even by sitting next to a window, the sun’s UVB rays cannot pass through. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are the ones that hit the cholesterol in your skin giving it the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. Thus, having the window open will be much more beneficial.

Step into the Sunlight!

Vitamin D is such a complicated, yet unique vitamin. The best way to receive it is not through supplementation, but the sun. Vitamin D is created from the cholesterol in your skin when it is exposed to sunlight, thus making it an essential vitamin for building a strong immunity and helping your nervous system, in addition to helping the body absorb the calcium it needs to keep your bones strong and healthy.

Taking a few minutes every day to get some fresh air and take in the sun rays is vital for optimal vitamin D levels. When we lack the power of the sun there is an increased risk of infection or illness. Take that time for yourself and feel the power!

Learn more about healthy lifestyle habits and other wellness program offered by Wellness Workdays.

Written by: Zena Hattar, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern




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