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Sunshine - The Single Best Thing for Health

With most of the modern world working and living indoors away from the sunshine, even before COVID-19, people are watching their screens much of the day and night disrupting natural circadian rhythms. So energy is low, sleep cycles are thrown off, while Vitamin D deficiency is at an all time high.

Morning light has its own benefits, especially for sleep and energy production. Gentle natural morning light in the eyes stirs production of serotonin (one of the "happiness" hormones), which later, as it grows dark, is converted to melatonin, the sleep hormone. You can enjoy deeper, more natural rhythms of sleep and alertness when you get 20-30 minutes of natural light as early in the morning as you can to start your neurotransmitters and metabolism working properly. [7] Early birds have the advantage.

The midday sun provides Vitamin D naturally by UVB rays acting upon the oils (cholesterol) in the skin. Most people don't get those midday UV sunrays enough either, but they are necessary for health because Vitamin D affects thousands of gene and cell functions in the body. Vitamin D enables normal growth and development of bones and teeth, and strengthens the immune system for improved resistance to disease. Muscles function better, and you have more energy and a better mood with sufficient Vitamin D available in your body. It is a fat-soluble Vitamin so the body does needs healthy fats to produce, store and use it.

A deficiency of vitamin D over months or years may lead to low energy and fatigue, lowered immune function, depression, sleep irregularities, hair loss, bone loss and bone pain, hormonal imbalance, and serious diseases like heart disease, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and even cancer. [1, 2 3] In fact, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that persons with lower blood levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to die prematurely as people with higher blood levels of vitamin D. [4]

Recently, a "growing body of circumstantial evidence" also links outcomes of COVID-19 and vitamin D status, according to a published paper in May 2020 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. [5] Populations that are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency - including the elderly, people with darker skin or those living in places where there's little sunlight - also seemed to be hardest hit by the disease. Patients with a severe vitamin D deficiency were twice as likely to experience major complications from COVID-19, an analysis of patient data from 10 countries found.

A major factor in maintaining a healthy body and immune system is getting enough sunshine and Vitamin D!

How to Get Enough Vitamin D?

What is the fastest way to raise Vitamin D levels?
It's not supplements actually, but getting outside in the sunshine. A half an hour at the right times for your geographical location can safely produce plenty of Vitamin D! This production depends on the amount of UVB rays that penetrate the skin, a process that can be affected by clothing and sunscreen.

Other factors that affect absorption of UV rays for Vitamin D production include your geographical location, the season, your age, how much of your skin is exposed, excess fat, whether you stand or lie flat, and darkness of your skin. Air pollution can also reduce Vitamin production by blocking the sun. [6 - This reference can help you understand these factors better]

For most white-skinned people, a half-hour in the summer sun in a bathing suit where the sun is high in the sky can initiate the release of 50,000 IU (1.25 mg) Vitamin D into the circulation within 24 hours of exposure. This same amount of exposure results in 20,000–30,000 IU Vitamin D in tanned individuals, and 8,000–10,000 IU in darker-skinned people who benefit from a longer time in the sun. [7]

It's not always easy to get outside when the sun is high enough in the sky with our modern lifestyle. Planning is needed, first to know when UVB rays are available in your area. Second, to be able to expose about half of your body or more - legs, arms, back and belly if possible, 20-30 minutes several times a week. This could make a vast difference in your health and well-being.

A good rule of thumb is that if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun is high enough in the sky to allow UV rays to reach you. If your shadow is longer than your height, no. Then you can get other beneficial effects from sunshine that contribute to activating various other functions of your body, but not Vitamin D.

Also, don't shower immediately afterward, or you will wash away the oils of your skin before Vitamin D can be produced in it and absorbed.

If you want to predict what times, days and months of the year you can get exposure to UV sun rays in your area, go to on a computer (this function doesn't seem to be available on a cell phone), to their Sun Calendar section and enter in your city. Part way down the page you will see a chart that gives sunrise and sunset times and much other information.

The magic is that when you click on a date, a graph of the sun's motion will drop down for that day. By moving the sun icon along its rise and set line, on the right side you can see how high it is in the sky each minute of the day - the altitude of the sun in degrees. You are looking for 50 degrees high in the sky or more - that's when it is high enough in the sky for UV rays to be shining in your location. So you can plan which days and hours to get out in the sun each month. Some months of the year there will be no UV rays available, so take advantage of it when they are present!

Otherwise, regularly eating foods rich in this vitamin or supplementing with a well-absorbing form of Vitamin D (along with its necessary co-factors) is necessary for your health. Fatty animal foods from animals raised out in the sunshine contain the most Vitamin D, like pasture-raised eggs, beef, pork, and fatty cold water fish that live naturally (not farm-raised).

If you supplement, which is wise during low sunlight winter months, remember that Vitamin D should be taken with a meal containing some healthy fat and Vitamins A and K, two fat-soluble vitamins that work with D.

It takes around 2-3 months to raise blood levels of active Vitamin D with supplementation. So getting out in the sunshine while the sun is high in the sky is recommended to increase your body's own production of Vitamin D rapidly.

Supplementation with Vitamin D2 or D3 - What's the Difference?

Vitamin D2 and D3 are the two major forms found in foods and supplements. What's the difference? D3 (known as Cholecaliferol) is the most easily absorbed and utilized form. It is the one that occurs naturally in human or animal skin and hair when exposed to sunlight. D3 is found in most fatty fish, beef liver, dairy products and eggs yolks. Animals which have been raised on natural forage in the sun (pasture-raised/grass-fed) are found to be highest in D3.

Vitamin D2 (known as Ergocaliciferol) is also found naturally in some plants such as sweet potatoes, and dandelion greens, and in some marine animals, but not land animals. In supplements it is usually derived from irradiated yeast and fungus.

Whether D2 is an adequate substitute for D3 is controversial because people vary in ability to convert D2 efficiently to the active D3 form.

Vitamin D is available as a supplement in softgels or a liquid form. The liquid is easy to take, though it may or may not taste neutral depending on the brand - but great for kids, older people, and anyone who is tired of swallowing capsules. Liquid drops can be added to smoothies or other drinks or just taken by the dropper.

So go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine! Just be sure to stay hydrated, and take some healthy snacks with you. Also remember to keep some natural first aid products on hand for sunburn, scratches or insect bites.

We have some great products to help you enjoy your time in the sun.

Check out our Healthy Snacks and Natural Summertime First Aid and Sunburn Soothers

6 Nutrients. 2010 May; 2(5): 482-495.Published online 2010 May 4. doi: 10.3390/nu2050482 Ola Engelsen The Relationship between Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure and Vitamin D Status
7 Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Apr; 116(4): A160-A167.doi: 10.1289/ehp.116-a160 Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health M. Nathaniel Mead PMID: 18414615

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult with your health practitioner if you suspect you have a health problem.


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