Welcome, June! It’s safe to say that all of us are happy to welcome June 2021 after last year’s summer with COVID-19 restrictions.
There’s even more to be happy about when June arrives: the days are longer in the summer, the nights are warmer, and people just seem to be happier. There’s a reason for that. In the summer, we spend more time outside, whether in the pool, in our gardens, or engaging in a fun outdoor activity. The extra time in the sun creates more Vitamin D in our system which reduces depression. So not only is summertime nostalgic and fun, but it is good for us too! Isn’t that kinda cool?
In Genesis 1:3, “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” But it was more than the light to see by and govern the day. Exposure to the sun creates a chemical component for health. It allows our bodies and spirits to fully operate in the way He intended, both emotionally and physically. Vitamin D is so important that your body makes it by itself — but only after skin exposure to sufficient sunlight.
The connection between Vitamin D and depression is a new health fact for me. As I have researched it this week, I have learned that our bodies need the light from the sun to thrive and stay healthy in the same way our spirits need the light of God’s Son to thrive and be happy.
A report from NIH states that depression is the most common debilitating psychiatric disease. Recent evidence indicates that an insufficiency of Vitamin D is frequently observed in patients with depression.
More studies at NIH have been done that research the potential benefits of Vitamin D for improving mood and reducing depression in older adults (links for these studies are at the bottom of this article).
Think about this: How many of our seniors who are physically, mentally and/or emotionally challenged simply do not get outside regularly to receive the all-natural, essential health blessing of sunshine and the Vitamin D it produces? True, it’s far easier to stay indoors, but we all (especially our seniors) need that grand-daddy of the natural health booster—Vitamin D—from its best and original source: the sun! June’s great weather is the perfect time to commit to getting enough Vitamin D ourselves. We can help those around us who struggle with mental health—especially our beloved seniors—by encouraging and helping them to get outside in the sun for a short while each day.
Whether it’s to be active outdoors or just sit and soak up its goodness, Vitamin D received from being in the sun is an essential component that our bodies need. For starters, it is essential for:
1) Mental stability;
2) Best bone health;
3) Improved heart health and managing blood pressure;
4) Muscular strength; and
5) Preventing and fighting cancer.
How do you know if you’ve got enough Vitamin D? You’ll have to do a blood test for that. While there are home test kits available, it’s best to consult with your doctor.
Good news: Like water and its essential benefits, Vitamin D is also free! You just have to go outside and get it. While we can take Vitamin D supplements and eat foods that support our Vitamin D levels, being outdoors in the sun is the best way to obtain a sufficient supply. Interestingly, there are very few foods that contain Vitamin D. These include cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, canned tuna, beef liver, egg yolks and sardines. That said, you would need to eat them nearly every day to get enough Vitamin D. For those of us who have chosen a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle and do not eat these foods, we need to make sure that our Vitamin D needs are not neglected. Because obtaining enough Vitamin D is such a challenge, some foods, including cereal and orange juice, are Vitamin-D fortified.
To me, these restricted ways to acquire Vitamin D (no matter what your eating preferences) state a very clear and distinct message from Mother Nature and the Creator of the sun, God’s own Son: “Please go outdoors and enjoy the sunshine! I created it for you and your health, both physical and emotional. Fun in the sun is a blessing I want you to have as often as possible!”
Interestingly, while we cover up and protect ourselves with hats and sunscreen from the sun’s dangerous rays that cause skin cancer, wrinkles and sunburns, we need to be careful to not block it entirely.
How to get enough Vitamin D and not the bad rays? Or a sunburn? Time it right. Soak in the sun, but don’t stay out for more than 30 minutes without sunscreen and sun-protective clothing. Studies show that for most of us, sunscreen is not used regularly enough to block all of the sun’s helpful rays.
Midday is the best time to get vitamin D, as the sun is at its highest point and your body may manufacture it most efficiently around that time of day. This means you may need less time in the sunlight at midday.
There are so many fascinating things about Vitamin D and its complexities. Here are 10 that were most intriguing to me:
- Vitamin D is produced by your skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight. (Seriously, isn’t that just ingenious? Our Heavenly Father had the best time creating our marvelous physical bodies!)
- The healing rays of natural sunlight (that generate vitamin D in your skin) cannot penetrate glass. So you don’t generate vitamin D when sitting in your car or home.
- It is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from your diet. Sunlight exposure is the only reliable way to generate vitamin D in your own body.
- A person would have to drink ten tall glasses of vitamin D fortified milk each day just to get minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet.
- The further you live from the equator, the longer exposure you need to the sun in order to generate vitamin D. Canada, the UK and most U.S. states are far from the equator.
- People with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 – 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. That’s why prostate cancer is epidemic among black men — it’s a simple, but widespread, sunlight deficiency.
- Sufficient levels of vitamin D are crucial for calcium absorption in your intestines. Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless.
- Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight: it takes months of vitamin D supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous system.
- Even weak sunscreens (SPF=8) block your body’s ability to generate vitamin D by 95%. This is how sunscreen products actually cause disease — by creating a critical vitamin deficiency in the body.
10. It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure: your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs.
So, welcome Summer 2021! As we launch this great new month, let’s be happy and celebrate that we survived 2020! Let’s challenge ourselves, and those around us, to get outdoors, whether it’s to walk, exercise, garden, sunbathe, picnic or swim, as much as is safely possible not just for the fun of it all, but for the essential health blessings Vitamin D brings.
1) Vitamin D and Depression, NIH Study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31826364/
2) The role of Vitamin D in the prevention of late-life depression:
3) VITAMIN D FACT SHEET FOR CONSUMERS
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been a columnist for Meridian Magazine since 2007. She provided mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success and happy living both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 through Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of a growing number of darling little ones. They are now happy empty nesters in Sandy, Utah where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox.
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