As we move into the sunnier days of the year, it is important that we practice safe and healthy sun exposure during the hotter months. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that we receive into the body through our exposure to sunlight. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps our bodies to regulate the functions of over 200 genes and is essential for a person's growth and development. Insufficient levels of vitamin D can result in devastating diseases and chronic illnesses.
Traditionally, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets, a disease in which the bone tissue doesn't properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. Other side-effects of a lack of vitamin D in our bodies are obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoporosis and neuro-degenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also lead scientists and medical practitioners to believe that Vitamin D deficiency may even contribute to the development of some cancers, especially breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Current research indicates vitamin D deficiency plays a role in causing seventeen varieties of different cancers as well as heart disease, stroke, autoimmune diseases, birth defects, and periodontal disease.
Although sunlight has many health benefits and is important for living a healthy lifestyle, it is important not to become overexposed to harmful UV radiation. Whenever you go outside, make sure that you wear protective clothing and sunscreen to limit your exposure to UV radiation. You should also make sure that you make use of shady areas when possible. Keep an eye on the UV index to moderate your exposure levels.