Getting your daily dose of vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” can do more than boost your mood. According to a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, vitamin D from natural light can also protect you from health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
After conducting the study, researchers from the University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute reported that individuals who receive the recommended amount of vitamin D are “less likely to show markers of inflammation in blood tests.”
Inflammation and dietary sources of vitamin D
Inflammation is a normal part of your body’s immune system and other processes. However, too much inflammation can increase your risk of developing chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
There are several ways to get a daily dose of vitamin D. Here are some dietary sources of vitamin D:
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
- Fatty fish (e.g, salmon, mackerel and tuna)
- Fortified cereals and juices
- Fortified milk
Fish products are full of vitamin D. Your body can also turn sunlight into vitamin D, and spending some time outdoors is the easiest way to get your required intake.
Addressing vitamin D deficiency helps reduce chronic inflammation
For the study, the research team analyzed data from the U.K. Biobank, a pool of data from thousands of UK residents. The study included data from 294,970 participants.
The researchers compared levels of vitamin D and C-reactive proteins that are linked to inflammation.
In a statement, Dr. Ang Zhou, lead researcher of the study, explained that inflammation helps protect tissues if someone is injured or if they have an infection. The liver then produces high levels of C-reactive protein in response to inflammation.
When you suffer from chronic inflammation, you have high levels of C-reactive protein, explained Zhou.
After analyzing the blood test data they gathered, the researchers found a definitive link between vitamin D levels and C-reactive protein levels. This suggests that people can protect themselves from inflammation-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease by increasing their intake of vitamin D. (Related: Sun or supplements: Is spring sunshine enough to maintain healthy vitamin D levels?)
Getting more vitamin D from sun exposure
The easiest and most recommended way to get more vitamin D is to spend more time outdoors.
The amount of sunlight you need depends on your age and race, but sun-derived vitamin D is considered to be more durable than what you get from food and supplements.
Consume fish, fish-oil products and mushrooms to boost your dietary intake of vitamin D.
When the sun’s rays hit your skin, processes inside the tissues start making the sunshine vitamin. You don’t need to get a tan or sunburn to get vitamin D from the sun. Your body will make all the vitamin D it needs for a day in about half the time it takes your skin to burn.
Certain factors affect how much vitamin D you can get from the sun:
- Skin color – Pale skin makes vitamin D more quickly than darker-colored skin.
- Time of day – The skin produces more vitamin D when in the sun during the middle of the day because it is at its highest point in the sky. When spending prolonged time under the hot sun, wear sunscreen and drink lots of water to prevent dehydration.
- Amount of skin exposed – The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D your body will make. For example, exposing your back allows the body to produce more vitamin D than just your hands and face.
Where you live in relation to the equator also significantly affects how much vitamin D your body can produce.
In the U.S., residents in the sunnier southern states will find it easier to meet their vitamin D requirements with sun exposure compared to people in the northern states. This is especially true during the winter months because the sun is lower in the sky.
While frequent, moderate exposure to the sun is good for you, note that prolonged exposure can be dangerous. If you stay in the sun too long that your skin burns, you have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Experts currently recommend that people stay in the sun for half as long as it takes your particular skin type to burn before covering up and taking a break in the shade. This should give you all the vitamin D you need without increasing the risk of skin cancer.
Watch the video below to know more about vitamin D deficiency and how to prevent it.
This video is from Dr. Farrah MD’s channel on Brighteon.com.