I’ve always loved the feeling of warm sunlight on my skin. When the sun is shining, everything seems happier and brighter. It is a well-known fact that exposure to sunlight increases vitamin D levels, which helps to boost the mood and immunity as well as protect against bone loss, cancer, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. However, most people are Vitamin D deficient. We need UVB sun rays to get our Vitamin D, but sunscreen blocks this almost completely. Also, UVB rays cannot travel through glass, but damaging UVA rays can, so don’t expect to get a vitamin D boost sitting in a bright sunny room with glass windows.
When taking supplements, animal sources of Vitamin D3 are much more effective than plant sources of D2 as D3 is converted to usable vitamin D by our bodies 500% faster than D2. Egg yolks (especially when the chickens are exposed to sun and have rich yellow yolks) and salmon are my favorite sources of Vitamin D after sunlight, and my favorite supplement is D3 and fish oil supplements by Nordic Naturals.
According to Dr. Mercola, the best time to be in the sun for Vitamin D production is as near to solar noon as possible, typically around 1pm for most time zones. This is because the beneficial UVB rays are low in the morning and evening and high at mid-day. So, in the hours between 10-2 you will need the least sun exposure for the most benefit. Those with pale skin may need just a few minutes of sunlight, all you need is enough to turn your skin the lightest shade of pink. Darker skin types may need a little longer. Most people will max out their Vitamin D production after 10-20 minutes of sun exposure. After this, the body will not absorb any more vitamin D and only the harmful effects of the sun will linger. It’s best to protect your thinnest skin, around your eyes and face, from too much sun exposure to prevent damage and premature wrinkles.
To check your vitamin D levels, you must do a blood test. Since Vitamin D is emerging as a key player in fighting cancer, it is highly recommended to stay on top of this. As the Chinese proverb states, don’t wait to dig the well until you are thirsty; prevention in key to health and happiness.
Now scientists at Georgetown university have discovered a new way besides Vitamin D absorption that sunlight is beneficial-by activating key immune cells that fight infection within the body. This is how it works. The dermis, our second layer of skin, has a high concentration of T-lymphocytes, a type of immune cell. When T-lymphocytes, or T cells are stimulated by foreign invaders or infections in the body, they release hydrogen peroxide to mobilize other immune cells and mount an immune response. According to this new study, the blue light aspect of sunlight penetrates to the dermis and activates these T cells automatically, releasing them into the bloodstream to boost the body’s overall immunity.
The National Academy of Medicine still does not recommend boosting sun exposure as this can increase risk for skin cancer and skin aging, but this new study has opened the possibilities of using special blue spectrum lamps for healing purposes. It has also confirmed my feeling that our bodies thrive by being exposed to nature in more ways than we currently understand.
1. Manson, JoAnn E. MD. “Some Benefits of Sunlight May be Independent of Vitamin D.” Medscape Ob/Gyn 1/2017.
2. Mercola, MD “3 Reasons You May Not be Getting Enough Vitamin D this Summer.” July 30, 2012 accessed 1/2017
3.Phan TX, Jaruga B, Pingle SC, Bandyopadhyay BC, Ahern GP. Intrinsic photosensitivity enhances motility of T lymphocytes. Sci Rep 2016;6:39479.
4. Ware, Megan. “Vitamin D: Health Benefits, Facts and Research.”Medical News Today” 1/2017.