Sunshine - Vitamin D
“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder
In 2000, when I first moved to live in Spain, I eased myself in to basking in
and celebrating the daily sunshine, the constant blue skies, the shimmering
beauty of the Mediterranean sea, the lack of clouds, the lack of rain, except
for a few showers in the winter months. As the years went by, the climate
seemed to change, winters were longer, sun was less, and rain was daily,
Now back in Scotland, constant, clear, blue, cloudless, daytime skies are a
rarity, the winter of 2017/18 went on for months, was cold and bitter. To
ensure I had access to some Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, I made sure I
took a Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 (you need both) supplement each day,
weekly took some of the few foods which offered some Vitamin D eg fatty
fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna. I could also have got it from
dairy products, juices, and cereals that had been “fortified with vitamin D” but
I seek to avoid processed foods.
Food aside, most vitamin D – 80% to 90% of what the body gets – is obtained through exposure to sunlight, which can be difficult to get in northern climes where daylight hours can be at a premium, weather can impede both the sun and prevent sus baring our bodies to allow the sun’s rays permeate our skin. So let’s shine some beams on the sun and sunlight.
While many of us love the sun for the warm feeling it leaves on our skin, or the joy of watching the sun rise or set, or the opportunity to shed some clothes, sunshine brings numerous other benefits, from better bone health to improved sleep, an amelioration of depression and even a reduced risk of developing some cancers. That said, this is not a licence to lay in the sun all day! Be wise; a few minutes per day, unshaded, is all it takes to glow, it’s important not to burn or fry, and ironically, lots of the sun creams have huge numbers of chemicals which do your skin little good. But, while too much of the sun’s warm rays can be harmful to your skin, the right balance can have lots of mood lifting and other health benefits.
Key Health Benefits of Sunshine
1. Reduces risk of Type 2 diabetes.
2. Reduces of cancer. There are lessened mortality rates for 15-20 types of cancer in regions of higher solar UVB exposure, particularly for breast, colon, and rectal cancer.
3. Better bone health. Vitamin D boosts calcium absorption for stronger bones, reducing the likelihood of bone diseases, fractures and osteoporosis.
4. Protects eye health. A lower incidence of cataracts, and a lowered risk of macular degeneration as you age.
5. Boosts immunity. Vitamin D is integral to proper function of the body’s T cells— the immune system’s first line of defense.
6. Improves metabolism and so is a likely defence against obesity.
7. Lowers blood pressure.
8. Improves circulation,
9. Reduces the risk of stroke.
10. Enhances the quality of sleep.
11 Makes us feel better, improves our mood, calms us down, lessens stress.
12. In the sunshine, we are more likely to walk, exercise, move, garden and of course – swim in the sea.
Signs you may be sun or vitamin D deficient
Autoimmune disease – eg Type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus etc
Seasonal depression. seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Skin issues eczema and psoriasis
Weak bones (osteopenia)
Weakened immune system - a weak or deficient immune system can lead to dysfunctions such as autoimmune diseases (including allergies) and tumour growth. Do you catch colds and viruses often? Are you sick a lot? Do you have allergies? Are you run down and fatigued most of the time? You may have a weak immune system.
The Sunshine Healer
Sunshine is an incredible, powerful healer and it plays a far bigger role in your healing process than just providing vitamin D. Can you remember the times when you stepped out into the sunshine and you felt its warmth, its comforting, all-embracing rays deeply infilling and enfolding you with life and energy. It almost felt like someone wrapping you in their arms.
As we age, we can’t receive enough vitamin D or produce it because the sunshine isn’t enough, and in our northern climes, it can, in autumn and winter, be scarce indeed.
So we have to get our vitamin D in supplement form and through food. And if you do take vitamin D, take vitamin D3 and also Vitamin K2 to help your body better absorb the vit D.
And don’t forget that vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, every micronutrient, every mineral - selenium, molybdenum, zinc, copper, every single mineral in us is enhanced by the sun.
There are many people who don’t get sunlight on their skin and yet have lots of skin cancer to contend with. So avoiding sun does not automatically mean you avoid cancer – many other things can trigger cancer.
So whilst we needs be cautious of overdoing the sunshine, we shouldn’t be afraid of it, or of skin cancers or we’ll deny ourselves of all the healing properties the sun offers.
When I lived in Spain I observed how, at lunchtime, Spanish beaches would empty, people would head back home or to a nearby taverna to escape the heat of the mid-day sun. They knew it wasn’t wise to sit on the beach and bake for hours with suntan lotion, the very lotions that actually stop the sun’s goodness get into your body systems. Indeed, for best results it is recommended you expose your bare skin to only about 15 – 20 minutes sunshine, and the rest of the time be in the shade or appropriately covered.
At a deeper level, have you ever considered that the sun has a soul, just as we do? The sun is a living creature, a living being all of its own. It’s in constant movement. It’s alive. Just as planet earth is alive. Planet earth is the Earth Mother, and as we would respect and care for our own mother, we should do likewise with the earth and the sun.
The sun is one of our healers and just as we would respect our earthly healers, we need to respect the sun. Just like we go to our different health practitioners, who are our healers, we heed their advice and counsel. And so with the sun, we heed the advice to shade our eyes, shelter our skin, remain hydrated.
The soulful sun also can inspire us; we show up for sunrises, and feel our energy rise as a new day begins, or be present for sunsets, sense the gentleness as the sun goes down, and the day gently ends, a moment to give gratitude. Or we stand in awe as we witness the sun’s rays break through clouds and on to shimmering waters. A moment for prayer perhaps.
We allow the sun to change our mood, lifting us out of depression, making us feel happy, optimistic, energised, able to get outdoors and enjoy walking, or gardening, picnics and angling, and for those of us who have a mind to, we can tune in to the Angel of Sun to help us heal and benefit from the sun’s healing energy.
And even if there is little sun around in some climes, or it is too cold to be outside, we can aim to spend some time sitting by the window enjoying the rays of the sun indoors.
During summer, it’s best to get sunshine on your skin early in the morning, and/or later in the day. If new to the sun, eg going overseas on holiday, for the firt few days, start out with five minutes and acclimatise up to 20 minutes. You’ll still get that tan and healthy glow.
During winter, in northern climes, it can be anytime of day.
So, a sunny checklist
How can you fit a few minutes into your daily schedule to spend time in the sun?
Can you sit outside while you make a business or family call?
Can you take your laptop outside and work in the sunshine for a little while, or work inside,
the sun streaming in through the window?
If you’re unwell, can you ask a friend or family member to help you sit or lay down comfortably
by a window, open to the sun?
How can you re-adjust your diary spontaneously to get out in natural sunlight – taking into
account local climatic conditions and your schedule?
How can you expose as much flesh to the sun as possible?
Research sunscreens - https://draxe.com/best-sunscreens/
If supplementing, take Vitamin D3 + also vitamin K2 (to aid absorption)
In the darker winter months, use a SAD Lightbox if you suffer from the winter blues
Use a tanning salon - moderate exposure to UV light (whether from sunlight or sunbeds) is the most important source of vitamin D for people in the UK, especially in winter months when our vitmin D levels are much reduced
Foods – get at least two portions of any of the following per day, bearing in mind other dietary regimens eg intermittent fasting, allergies and resistances.
Caviar -1 oz
Cod liver oil - 1 tsp
Eggs- 1 large
Mackerel - 3 ounces
Mushrooms - 1 cup
Raw Milk - 1 cup
Salmon – not factoried - 3 ounces
Sardines - 3 ounces
Tuna - 3 ounces
And bring your sunniest disposition out into the world and share it