Based on recent studies it is estimated that 13% of the world’s population is vitamin D deficient! And 42% of the US population is vitamin D deficient. This means about 1 in every 3 people in the US needs vitamin D. But why is vitamin D important?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for the body, which the body needs to absorb calcium. Vitamin D also plays a role in bone healing, bone growth, and immune system function. This vitamin is essential and yet many of us do not have enough of it.
With all the research out there showing the benefits of vitamin D on bone health, enhancing mood, preventing sickness, preventing tooth decay, optimizing hormone levels, and preventing cancer we could all benefit from getting a little sun on our bodies.
Vitamin D is essential for bone, heart, lung, dental, immune, nerve, and muscular health, as well as for optimal mental health. Deficiencies in vitamin D (and thus calcium) can cause serious conditions, such as rickets. Also, those with lower levels of vitamin D may be at a higher risk of a range of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, schizophrenia, and depression.
Recent studies on light show that not only are vitamin D and sunlight good for us but by not absorbing vitamin D and natural sunlight, we are experiencing more health problems as a whole.
Much research on this subject has been summarized by the German ophthalmologist Fritz Hollwich, MD, as well as by John Ott, Hon. D. Sci., a researcher on the properties of light. The array of bodily organs and systems that depend on full-spectrum light through the eyes is astounding. When the eyes are exposed to natural sunlight or full-spectrum light, the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal glands, ovaries, testes, pancreas, liver, and kidneys all function better, according to numerous studies.
In addition, research is ongoing, but studies have indicated that sunlight may provide a significant protective effect for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, breathing problems, inflammation, and diabetes.
More research points to numerous studies that demonstrate an improvement in mood and a lessening of the symptoms of depression with vitamin D supplementation, including in pregnant women and in children.
Studies also indicate a possible role of low vitamin D levels in other common childhood mental health conditions, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
It’s been found that people who experience depression generally have lower levels of Vitamin D—and that vitamin D supplementation (either via sunlight or through food or supplements) can reduce rates of depression and improve symptoms. This makes sense as Vitamin D is a master hormone and plays a role in regulating serotonin and calcium which seems to have a therapeutic impact on depression.
Researchers have also discovered that those with schizophrenia are more likely to have significantly low vitamin D levels and are more likely to live in parts of the world with less sun exposure, such as Iceland or Norway.
Numerous studies have indicated that insufficient sunlight exposure during infancy increases the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life.
All of this research just goes to show how vital sunshine and vitamin D are to our bodies. We need them and yet most Americans do not spend enough time outside in order to absorb the needed vitamin D naturally. Couple that with the many factors which affect how much vitamin D a person gets from the sun, such as:
The time of day. The skin produces more vitamin D when in the sun during the middle of the day, the time it is at its highest point in the sky.
The amount of skin exposed. The more skin exposed, the more vitamin D the body will make. Exposing the back, for instance, allows the body to produce more vitamin D than just the hands and face.
Skin color. Pale skin makes vitamin D more quickly than darker skin tones.
Where a person lives in relation to the equator also has a significant impact on how much vitamin D their bodies can make from sunlight exposure. In the United States, people in the sunnier southern states such as Georgia and Florida will find it easier to meet their vitamin D needs with sun exposure than those who live in the northern states such as Maine and New York. This is especially true in the winter months when the sun is lower in the sky.
With all the research coming to light (no pun intended) about the effects of sunlight and Vitamin D on our health the grandmotherly refrain to "get outside and get some sun" may have more to it than just being an old wives' tale. Sunlight (and the vitamin D it lets our bodies make) offers enormous mental and physical health benefits that, for most of us, can be accessed simply by walking out the door. So, if you need a boost, go out and get yourself a regular jolt of liquid gold.
Because isn’t it amazing how sunlight and vitamin D both affect so much of our bodies? By obtaining both in healthy doses we see improved mental health, higher energy levels, and a healthy body overall! Thankfully this is not something that is not hard to achieve, by spending thirty minutes to an hour outside each day you can be well on your way to a happier, more active, and healthier you with which to enjoy your Happy Healthy Summer!