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Are you enjoying the summer yet? Summer’s ideal for relaxing at the beach, spending time in the sun with your friends or just being outside. Another lovely little bonus this time of year brings you is that it is a fantastic opportunity to dose up on your natural vitamin D intake. After all, the sun is the best source of this vital nutrient. But why is it so important? And how can you make sure that you get enough? We’ll tell you more!

Sufficient vitamin D levels are crucial for your health. It’s required for bone health, your immune system, to protect you against colds and to fight depression. Vitamin D deficiency has even been linked to heart disease and various types of cancer.

Contrary to many other important vitamins, vitamin D is rather easy to take in because it is created by our own bodies. There are some foods that are rich in vitamin D, like fatty fish or eggs, but the most natural way to get a proper dose is to expose your skin to sunlight. It’s that easy! Sunlight encourages the body to produce vitamin D, after which the kidneys convert vitamin D to its active form.

Even though it’s quite easy to get enough vitamin D, many people are deficient due to modern life. Our habits of spending more time indoors and working long hours don’t allow us to take in as much vitamin D as our ancestors used to. Sitting in front of a window won’t have the same effect as being outside. You need direct sun exposure to reap the benefits. Therefore we need to make a conscious decision to go outside and take in the powerful rays of the sun.

Not only modern life impacts our ability to take in enough vitamin D, but there are also many other factors that play a part. One is your location. The further away from the equator, the weaker the effects of the sun will be. Skin tone and age also impact vitamin D production. The high pigmentation in dark skin blocks sunlight, so people with dark skin won’t be able to produce enough vitamin D and could be vulnerable to deficiency. As we age the kidney’s ability to convert vitamin D declines, thus putting you at risk as well.

Due to the variables at play it’s hard to set a strict guideline for how much sun exposure is enough, but we can give an estimate. To get an adequate dose of vitamin D, make sure you spend at least 15 minutes outside during the summer, in the middle of the day and with some skin exposed. But make sure you protect the skin itself from the harmful sunrays or you’ll encounter other skin problems in time.  During wintertime, or if you are in one or more of the groups at risk for deficiencies, try to spend more time outside, up your vitamin D intake through your diet or consider supplementing with pills. But before you do the latter, always consult your doctor first.

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