As the season changes you may notice a difference in your mood, your energy, and even your outlook on life. You may wonder why it’s harder to get out of bed in the morning, why it’s a struggle to be patient with your loved ones, or why you are beginning to rely on that second (or fifth) cup of coffee to make it through your day!
While there are many factors that impact these changes, lack of sun exposure throughout the winter months may be one of them. One of the main reasons that sunlight affects your well-being so much is the direct impact sunlight has on your Vitamin D levels. Let’s take a look at how this happens and the impact it has on the body!
Sun Exposure & Vitamin D
When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it causes your body to synthesize cholesterol into Vitamin D. It takes time for your system to create and absorb adequate levels of Vitamin D.
Generally speaking a large amount of your skin must be exposed to the sun for at least 30 minutes each day for you to create optimal levels of Vitamin D. During the cooler months it is especially difficult to receive enough sun exposure for this to occur.
While your diet can contribute to your level of Vitamin D, we were genetically designed to receive our Vitamin D from exposure to the sun. If you live in the Midwest you are likely not getting enough sunlight to produce optimal levels of Vitamin D, especially during the cooler months.
What it Means for You
Nearly all the cells in our bodies have Vitamin D receptors, so our bodies can not function properly when we are deficient.
Appropriate levels are vital for your immune system to, as well as your cardiovascular health. In fact, Vitamin D actually influences the regulation of gene expression
Deficiencies have been linked to depression, diabetes, asthma, allergies, cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis and inflammation.
The “3-S” solution
- Spend more time in the sun! If you avoid the sun for a fear of getting skin cancer, I encourage you to listen to this podcast of Dr. Michael Ruscio interviewing Vitamin D researcher Dr. Michael Holick.
In it, they discuss research that shows sun exposure alone actually reduces the risk of melanoma, all cause mortality, breast cancer, blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
- Supplement with a good quality Vitamin D. If you are unable to sufficiently raise your levels of Vitamin D with sun exposure alone, you can supplement.
It is important to find a good brand that you can trust. My favorite brand is Innate Choice. Their product uses the same form of Vitamin D that our bodies make through exposure to the sun and is carried in an organic olive oil.
- Speak with a professional. Sometimes the winter blues can turn into something more serious. Each year around 5% of the population will develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression connected to the seasons.
As you may know, I often think about what our ancestors did long ago to help me understand what is natural and good for us.
Spend a moment thinking about how much time our ancestors used to spend outside. Now compare that to your modern lifestyles. If you are anything like me, you spend WAY more time indoors than our relatives generations ago.
If you are interested in supplementing with Vitamin D, or would like to get your levels checked, I'd be happy to help!