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Vitamin D, Sunshine and Your Health

posted on Thursday, 29th April 2010 | find under 

(another Ski picture: me and my lovely hubby soaking up the benefits of spring sunshine in the Alps)

SPRING sunshine is finally here.  Wardrobes are getting cleared out, toes painted, legs waxed and the first inklings of Sweaty Betty's fabulous summer ranges are hitting the stores.

Alongside the sun in the sky this week, there's been a lot in the papers about Vitamin D, the vitamin we absorb best from sunshine and which it turns out, life in the UK leaves us rather short of. In fact in Britain, the sun is only strong enough to give us the vitamin D we need for optimum health, between March and September.  And there is also evidence to suggest that the further north you live, the more vitamin D deficient you will be as the sun rays gets weaker (hmmmnn ... this last bit of information doesn't make my trip to Bolton this weekend seem any more exciting)!

So we know lots about sun burn and sun damage and skin cancer and of course WRINKLES (agh).  But what about lack of sunshine?  Here are just some of the health concerns that a lack of vitamin D have been linked with:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Rickets
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Depression
  • Autoimmune disorders (such as thyroid problems)
  • High blood pressure

A lack of vitamin D has also been linked with poor athletic performance and muscle strength losses. But then we could have probably told the scientists that.  Training feels SO much better in the sunshine.

And just to make the whole thing a little more complicated than just popping a supplement during the winter months, scientists are now claiming that it's not just about the vitamin D, it's also about the sun rays and blue light (expect much more news about blue light in the coming months - it's going to be one of those buzz words). 

So what's a girl to do to stay healthy?

Whilst we don't want to get burned and wrinkly, evidence is conclusive that some exposure to the sun is vital for good health.  Doctors agree that 20 minutes exposure to the midday sun, without sun screen, is safe and enough exposure to get your D vits and your blue light.  So if you can stand the heat, take your training outside to get a double health hit.

And then, for a little vitamin D insurance against our British 'BBQ' (a-hem) summer, a daily supplement can only help.  But the body can't hold on to it so it does need to be daily.

So Betties, take to the streets, the parks and the garden.  Do be safe in the sun but above all - enjoy it x




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