All this hot weather makes me feel like just going out to check my mail is going to take some serious effort. The sun is shining bright and the humidity levels are making you break a sweat just from looking out the window. It may seem that it is better to stay indoors, where our air conditioning and popsicles reside, but in all actuality you really need to take some time and get some fresh air, and some of that hot sun. If you are feeling a bit like you are dragging your feet it might not be because it is so hot out but rather that the heat is keeping you from going outside. Seasonal depression doesn’t just happen in the winter time. Our bodies need the energy that the sun produces and it requires that energy to make the all-important Vitamin D.
Our ancestors took in about 10,000 UI of Vitamin D every day. That kind of makes the 400 UI recommended by most health associations seem a little paltry. If we were to take a step back in time we would see that our hunter gatherer relations were outside and raking in the golden rays of sunshine pretty often. They didn’t require milk or vitamins to get their daily dose of Vitamin D, and neither do we, provided we show the sun a little love.
It only takes 15-20 minutes of sun exposure daily to give you all that feel good energy that comes direct from nature, and you really only need to expose your hands and face to get the full effect. Nature provides us with everything we need to be healthy it is up to us to take advantage of it. I hope you have left this post to go outside but if not here is a bit more information for you.
Should you wear sunblock? Yes and No. If you are going to be outside for a long period time, or going to be engaging in excessive sun exposure, like at the pool or beach, then yes, by all means protect your skin. But if you are just going for a quick walk or playing in your backyard for half an hour then skip it. Sun screen does a great job of protecting our skin against sun damage, but it also protects it against the good things the sun’s rays can bring as well. If you are slathered in gooey sunblock you won’t be able to absorb the sun’s nutrients or produce Vitamin D from it. Of course if you have a history of skin cancer or other skin disorders you need to follow your doctor’s recommendations on sunscreen. You can still benefit from being outside even if it you are covered in blue goo.
Vitamin D does come from other sources, like green leafy vegetables, many fruits, and some whole grains. Having these in your diet will help, but they can’t do the job of the sun, so keep that in mind.
Do you lay awake at night, tossing and turning? Do your children wake up five thousand times a night? You can easily blame this on stress or life, but the real culprit might be that you are deficient in your Vitamin D stores. When you get ample sun your body is able to figure out when it should be asleep and when it shouldn’t. Staying inside can cause this system to become confused and as your vitamin D levels drop you become exhausted but can’t seem to fall asleep. Not to mention that staying inside all day also keeps you from exercising, and even though it is hot as ever a ten minute walk could do wonders for your nocturnal cycle. (Note: sleeping with a light on is a carcinogenic, say goodbye to the night lights)
Are you convinced? Are you packing up the kids and heading to the park, or just checking the mail? Good. While you are out there don’t forget to drink lots of water, dehydration is all too common among children and adults.