EVER wondered why people seem more relaxed and happier when they are outside in the sun? The answer may well be that they are being supercharged with vitamin D sourced from our closest yellow star – the sun!
You may well know that vitamin D is linked to strong bones and teeth. Research shows vitamin D deficiency also plays a role in some cases of depression, chronic fatigue and an increased tendency to infections.
So if you work indoors and spend little time in the sunlight, you should get your vitamin D levels checked if you are feeling a bit glum. You might need the warm sunshine vitamin to brighten up your days.
A very unique quality of exposing your skin to sunlight is that it activates a “starting material” to be converted into what is commonly referred to as vitamin D.
In the top layer of your skin, you have a substance called 7-dehydrocholesterol. Sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D3 from that substance. Vitamin D3 is then taken to the liver and kidneys to become the most effective form of vitamin D.
A vitamin is defined when your body cannot produce it but needs supplies from dietary sources. It can be argued that vitamin D is not a true vitamin at all, but perhaps more of a hormone!
Yes, some of the foods you may eat do contain vitamin D! These include fish, butter, milk (especially full cream); as well as fortified margarine, breakfast cereals and meal replacement shakes. Vitamin D is fat-soluble – so if you take a vitamin D supplement, do try eating healthy food with a little bit of fat such as fish, avocado pear and nuts at the same time. A really free and easy way to obtain your vitamin D is from sunlight.
However, don’t go overboard as excess sun exposure can damage your skin and cause cancer. Exposure to the sun early in the morning or late afternoon is the safest, try some gardening or go for a walk during those times! – Anastacia Sampson
- The health column will be published in the final edition of every month.