If you’re like most people, the answer to both of those questions is probably “no”. After all, we live in a society that is constantly bombarded with messages about the dangers of exposing ourselves to the sun. Despite that here’s why you should increase your intake of vitamin D and how natural sunlight can help you do that.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D comes in two forms. The first is known as vitamin D2. It is produced by plants and animals that have skin pigmentation.
The second form of vitamin D, known as vitamin D3, is only found in certain organs and tissues in the human body. It is synthesized by the body when vitamin D3 is ingested in food or supplements.
Benefits of vitamin D
Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, which helps keep your bones strong and healthy. People with vitamin D deficiency are at higher risk for osteoporosis and fractures.
Vitamin D helps regulate immune system function by reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major contributor to many common diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Reduces risk for certain cancers
Several studies have shown that people with adequate amounts of vitamin D have lower rates of certain types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer.
Vitamin D appears to play a role in regulating insulin — the hormone that controls blood sugar — and thus may help prevent diabetes. And people with adequate vitamin D levels are less likely to develop diabetes than those who have low levels of this nutrient.
Strengthening the immune system
If your levels of vitamin D are too low, you are more likely to get sick from a cold or the flu. This is because your immune system may not be strong enough to fight off bacteria and viruses that invade your body. A clinical trial found that taking a high dose each day in winter may help prevent colds and flu.
Take a Vitamin D supplement
If you’re not getting enough vitamin D from the sun or your diet, you may consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 IU per day for adults. However, since many Americans aren’t getting enough sun exposure, the recommended daily intake is more as is usually prescribed as two daily capsules.
Keep in mind that taking a vitamin D supplement isn’t a replacement for sunlight exposure. It’s simply a supplemental source of vitamin D.
There’s a lot to be said for the health benefits of natural sunlight. With just a few minutes of exposure each day, you can help improve your mood and boost your immune system among other things. The scientific arguments are conclusive: Natural sunlight provides numerous vitamin benefits beyond any other means. Most everyone stands to benefit from a little more natural sunlight in their lives—and that should be good news for just about everyone!