Nature gives us wonderful things and one of them is the sun. I don’t think life on Earth can ever exist without the sun. It gives humans vitamin that we can acquire without having to eat, which is vitamin D. The thing is, too much of sunlight exposure leads to bad things like skin cancer. But, we also need to have daily intake of sun in our lives.
Some of us know how things are, we go to work, we sit for a long time–sometimes we can stand, walk, get a ray of sunshine, sometimes not at all, we come home when the sun is not quite there (unless you live in the north). Basically we barely get the free vitamin D and we buy supplements and certain foods to compensate that. But why spend money on something you can get for free?
If we don’t have enough vitamin D, that’s bad news. Vitamin D deficiency leads to a lot of things that are not good for us mortal humans. Even though too much of sun can kill us, it gives us precious benefits too. In fact, increased vitamin D intake help us with a lot of things.
Lower risk of autoimmune disorders
According to Mayo Clinic, studies show that people who get more vitamin D and exposure to the sun have a lower risk of autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis. For people who already have this disorder, vitamin D benefits them as well. Experts also suggest that people who live in cold climates with little sun exposure must take supplements to prevent autoimmune disorders.
Increase your bone health
Vitamin D is a big help when it comes to absorbing calcium from food. It’s kind of making your bones a lot stronger. With the help of this vitamin, calcium can effectively prevent osteoporosis, bone fractures, and make bones stronger for older adults, which prevents them from falling. As for kiddies, this vitamin is needed to prevent rickets, a rare disease.
Help prevent some cancers
Researchers said that if you don’t have enough vitamin D in your body, it will lead to several cancers including breast and bowel. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that when we increase our calcium and vitamin D intake, that reduces all cancer risk in postmenopausal women substantially.
There is a contrast to this conclusion, though. In 2018, there was a clinical trial testing for cancer prevention and the research concluded that vitamin D didn’t lower the risk of developing cancer. The National Cancer Institute reported that there were almost 26,000 people analyzed and the incidence of invasive cancer was the same for the participants who took vitamin D as the ones who didn’t take it regularly.
Although the effect of vitamin D for cancer is rather debateable, it never hurts to take preventive measures and keep trying to be healthy, right?
Might help prevent dementia
This claim is also rather debateable. Early studies show and suggest that people who have dementia have lower levels of vitamin D. However, WebMD reports that the studies don’t give clear evidence whether taking the vitamins regularly can actually prevent dementia or benefit people with dementia. There’s a lot to learn, apparently.
Regulate the release of insulin
Some studies, like the one done by researchers at the Institute of Animal Physiology in Munich, Germany have shown a link between low levels of vitamin D and diabetes. Researchers found that mice have got vitamin D receptor cells located within insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas. These cells play an active role in the release of blood sugar-regulating hormones when higher demand calls for its release.
Unfortunately, this study is only found in mice. There are human studies, albeit limited, that suggest a correlation between low vitamin D levels, insulin secretion, and glucose tolerance in people with Type 2 diabetes. There’s not enough research for doctors to actually conclude that taking this vitamin prevent or treat diabetes.
People who have depression are usually said to be lacking vitamin D. The relationship between depression and vitamin D is give and take. “People who have depression are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency because they stay indoors, don’t exercise too much, and are likely not eating a healthy diet,” said a researcher Sonal Pathuk. “If you are being treated for depression, ask your doctor to test your vitamin D levels. “If you are deficient, get treated,” she continued.
Another doctor agrees with Pathuk. Michael Holick, the director of the Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Lab at Boston University, said, “People often feel better when they take vitamin D. One of the effects that vitamin D has on the brain is to improve serotonin levels — which is the same chemical that many antidepressants act on.”
An endocrinologist and researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland Erin LeBlanc stated that the link between vitamin D and depression was an interesting study. Vitamin D proved to have effects on other things besides bone health. She added that researchers should study more about this.
Increase heart health
According to Johns Hopkins Health, studies found that when you’re deficient of vitamin D, you risk yourself of getting cardiovascular issues such as heart attacks, congestive heart failure, strokes, and other conditions associated with cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure and diabetes.
Additionally, one study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation reported that when you don’t get enough vitamin D from the sun or the minimum 600IU (International Units) from supplements or food, the risk of developing high blood pressure increases.
Though it seems like the effect of vitamin D can be disputed, as a 2019 study done at Michigan State University has found that taking vitamin D supplements does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease nor decrease the chance of heart attacks, strokes or other major cardiovascular problems.
Although there are a lot of claims and rebuttals, it’s clear that vitamin D plays an important role in human’s wellbeing. Cancer journal concluded and suggested that human lives can be prolonged through increased and careful exposure to solar UV-B radiation as well as vitamin D3 supplementation in non summer months (the latter being the safer option).
Therefore, it’s time to get out there and bask in the sun or take enough food that contains vitamin D or the necessary supplements for you. One thing to note, though, is that don’t get out in the sun for a long period of time without sunscreen because sun exposure can kill us.
So can you get out without sunscreen? Absolutely. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests no more than 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure two to three times a week. Dr. Anne Marie McNeill and medical assistant Erin Wesner said that when you do that, it produces all the vitamin D your body can gather. But more than that, you’ve gotta slather on your sunscreen.
Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Real Cause, Real Cures said that we should use our common sense and not be afraid of being out in the sun. He added, “Historically people spent most of the day outside, weren’t dipped in sunscreen and didn’t have sunglasses on. They got plenty of sunshine. That was the normal way to get vitamin D.”