Spring is here and with the weather warming up, we’re bound to spend more time outside enjoying the sun. Our exposure to sunlight creates vitamin D also known as the sunshine vitamin.
Vitamin D is important for enabling the body to properly absorb and use calcium, which is needed for proper bone development and maintenance; it’s also essential for cell growth, wound healing, proper barrier function and recently, research has suggested it may protect against cancer. Deficiencies in vitamin D can cause rickets leading to bowed legs in children; osteomalacia in adults, which is the gradual softening and bending of the bones; and nervous system irritability.
Although sunlight is our natural source for vitamin D production, we must also be mindful that the skin is severely damaged by sun exposure. So, how can we balance the beneficial effects against the detrimental consequences?
Minimal amounts of sunshine are all that is necessary for vitamin D synthesis and wearing SPF is still absolutely crucial in maintaining skin health. Other sources of vitamin D include dairy(e.g. fortified milk), fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines in oil and mackerel, and mushrooms exposed to UV. Supplements are a third option, however always consult your physician first to determine if this is an appropriate choice for you.
*Note: Be wary of tanning salons who claim tanning beds can produce vitamin D. UVB produces vitamin D and tanning beds use UVA. Excessive and unprotected exposure to UV rays can lead to skin cancer!
Complete avoidance of the sun is not really possible nor desirable. After harsh cold weather, sunny days provide a perfect opportunity to get outside and enjoy life. So relish watching flowers bloom, take a relaxing yoga class at the beach-just make sure you stay protected and practice better judgement!
What’s your favorite spring time activity?
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