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A Day in the Sun: Vitamin D and Overall Health

smile sun

With the recent change in the daylight saving schedule it is hard to miss the fact that we are all enjoying more sunlight in our day.  I know I can feel a visceral difference as the days get longer.  Most will probably agree, there is just something nice about leaving work for the day and having the sun still shining in the sky.  With the waning of winter weather and daylight stretching into the evening hours, I am reminded of how important of a role sunlight plays in our overall health and well-being.

The term vitamin D is a bit of a misnomer as the role of the molecule in the body is more of a hormone.  It has been found to be integral to a plethora of cellular functions throughout the body.  It is an important regulator of calcium and phosphorus absorption.  A vitamin D deficiency can have serious implications on health. It is an independent risk factor for mortality rates across the general population.

 

Science has found direct correlations between sufficient Vitamin D levels in the body and:

 

  • Normal growth and development
  • Bone strength and function
  • Prevention of heart disease
  • Lung function
  • Healthy brain and nervous system function
  • Resistance to certain diseases, such as the flu
  • Mood regulation, deficiency is correlated with anxiety and depression
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

 

As you can see, proper vitamin D intake is an integral factor in overall health.  Believe it or not, the list above hardly touches the surface of all the way vitamin D has been linked to basic functions in the body and prevalence and outcomes of many serious diseases.  It is really imperative to discuss this with your doctor to make sure your levels are where they should be.  They may recommend improving deficient levels with an oral supplement.  However, vitamin D in the form of dietary supplements is much more difficult for the body to absorb. There is no substitute for the bioavailability of vitamin D that is synthesized from the sun through skin.  It is recommended that 10 minutes of sun exposure (without sunblock) 3 times a week should be enough to maintain healthy levels in the body. 

 

So get out there, breathe some fresh air and take an important step in improving your health!

 

-Tim Mavroules

sun heart

Keep your Cool - How to survive the Summer Sun/Heat

I am not a sunshine and/or heat enthusiast. Most people can guess this as soon as they meet me—I am one of the palest humans I’ve ever met, and I can’t tan; I only burn and then somehow get even paler. I also tend to run extremely warm, so the high temps aren’t my friend either. Suffice to say, surviving summer can be difficult. Here’s a list of my top tips for keeping cool/not burning to a crisp during the summer months!

 

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

According to the USGS Water Science School, up to 60% of the human adult body is water. When the temperatures rise, it becomes even more important for us to replenish our bodies with constant hydration! Personally, I’m not so great at keeping hydrated, but I have noticed that I hydrate much more often when I carry a very durable water bottle with me (I’m quite clumsy – nothing is safe!). My current favorite water bottle is this one from Camelbak. It’s large enough that I don’t feel like I’m constantly refilling it, and it stays watertight and sealed throughout the day which helps me to avoid unnecessary spills.

Use Accessories to your advantage

In addition to hydration, you can use accessories to help regulate temperature. In the past, I’ve used neckerchiefs like this. You just submerge them in water for 10-20 minutes, letting the beads inside expand, then pop them in the fridge or wear them right away. Having the moisture/cooling beads on the back of your neck effectively spreads cooling to the rest of your body rather quickly.

To protect from the sun, try a fashionable sun hat! This one even has a secret ponytail hole so you can wear your hair up while wearing it!

Be Aware and Prepare!

As a near-transparent person, I’ve grown accustomed to putting on sunscreen routinely. If sunscreen isn’t a routine for you, try your best each morning to anticipate where your day will take you: Will you be driving a lot? If so, make sure to at least put sunscreen on your face, as the rays get in through your windshield/windows. Will you be walking outside much? If so, either have clothes that cover everything, or apply sunscreen before leaving.

The same kind of preparation applies to temperature! If you know it is going to be hot, close the blinds/curtains in your house in order to block out some heat. I make sure to do this before I leave for work, and when I return home my apartment is always cooler than the outside temps. I also recommend investing in a sunshade for your windshield if you don’t have access to shade when parking your car at home or work. I use this one. I unfold/position the shade each morning before I walk into the office, and when I return at the end of the day my car is MUCH cooler than it would have been without the shade.

 

I hope these tips help you to stay safe and comfortable amidst the sunshine and heat this summer! What are your top tips for summer survival?

 

 

--Meg