Remember the song “Let The Sunshine In” from the musical Hair? Well, that’s what we’re talking about today. No NOT Hair…..SUNSHINE and its benefits.
When our eyes don’t take in enough sunlight, we can experience a serious mood change. Sometimes you’ll notice you start sleeping too much, or that you go through energy slumps. You might start to crave sweets and starchy foods.
Studies link those symptoms to low levels of brain chemicals like serotonin and melatonin. Not only do we need sunlight in our eyes to produce those neurotransmitters, we need sunlight on our skin to produce vitamin D.
We’ve long known that vitamin D is critical for building and maintaining strong bones. But a big surprise in recent years has been that vitamin D also plays a critical role in insulin regulation, making it important for the prevention of diabetes and heart disease. It’s also important for the regulation of your immune system, with studies linking low vitamin D levels to an increased risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancers, as well as to multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune condition.
Depending on where you live, it’s hard to get enough sunlight during the winter months. And in summer, many people avoid exposure to direct sunlight because they’re concerned about skin cancer. In addition, drugs used to treat heartburn, acid indigestion, and ulcers can deplete the body’s stores of vitamin D.
What this means is that you have a good chance of developing a deficiency of this critical vitamin.
It’s easy to restore the vitamin D your body needs. You can get it by spending a few minutes in the sun each day. You can also get it from food sources, especially eggs, fatty fish, and fish liver oils. And if you don’t like fish, there are supplements.
I’ve long been a proponent of having your vitamin D levels checked the next time you get a blood test.
If you decide to take supplements, avoid the old form of vitamin D (ergocalciferol). Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the best form to use. Experts are now recommending that we get at least 1,000 IUs per day.
So enjoy letting the sunshine in and keep up your levels of vitamin D.