Sun Exposure and Vitamin D – What's the Right Balance?

It’s summer and the sun is out, but we’re not just making small talk about the weather here. We’re talking about health! We’ve all heard about the detrimental effects of too much sun exposure, but getting some time in the sun is also the most effective way to get essential Vitamin D. So what’s the best way to strike a healthy balance?

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What’s so great about vitamin d anyway?

Vitamin D is one of the essential vitamins our bodies need. It’s important for bone health, cardiovascular function, immune system and preventing diseases like rickets and cancer. There are some food sources of Vitamin D, including fatty fish, cheese, and fortified foods such as (some) cereals and orange juice. Compared to what we need in a day, though, the Vitamin D content of these foods can be minimal.
Unlike other vitamins, our bodies can synthesize Vitamin D with the help of UVB rays that come from sunlight. If you’re like us in the Pacific Northwest and live somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine every day, then you could be deficient in Vitamin D. In that case, it’s a good idea to take a supplement in the winter months, but getting enough sunlight is still the easiest way to boost your Vitamin D levels.

 

What’s Bad about the Sun?

 

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Why are we always being told to lather up in sunscreen before heading out? There are many side effects to staying out too long in the sun. Headaches and thirst usually come first, and extended exposure can cause a sunburn that can last for days. Even worse, consistently spending too much time in the sun can cause skin cancer. This is a major concern among our society today, as a whopping 3.5 million cases are diagnosed each year in the United States according to the American Cancer Society. That’s more than all the other types of cancer combined!

The Balance

Scary facts like that might make us want to stay inside forever! But before you develop heliophobia, remember that like in most things, balance is key. Our bodies need Vitamin D, but too much sun exposure can cause a lot of damage over time. According to the Vitamin D council, we may be able to get all that we need within 15 minutes of direct sunlight, though this does vary depending on skin tone and age.
What are your thoughts? Are you concerned with vitamin D intake? How much sun do you get?
Tell us in the comments below!
 
 
 


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