If you are from the northern states like I am (Minnesota, or I like to say Minnesnowta), about this time of year you start to crave going somewhere warm. Now, I could just put on my muklucks and wrap up in my favorite cozy soft blanket, but I get the feeling that’s not what my body is actually craving. My body is craving the SUN! Oh, the warmth it gives my body from its perfect rays, I can feel the warm sand beneath my feet and the smell of coconut in the air, the cabanna boy just asked what I wanted for lunch! LOL
Ok, now that I’ve taken you all on vacation with me, how about we talk about why our bodies crave the sun and is the sun really good for us?
Our bodies make vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight. In fact 80-100 percent of the vitamin D we need, comes from the sun. A daily dose of sunlight (10 -15 min of direct sun on 75% of our body) delivers 10,000-25,000 IU (international units) of sunlight.
How much vitamin D does our body require?? What the government recommendations are to prevent rickets, is 200-600 IU of vitamin D daily.
And If you go in and have your vitamin D level checked with your physician, more than likely you will be told if your level is above 30 ng/ml….. you are just fine.
What about from a functional medicine standpoint? Functional medicine looks at optimal (most desirable or satisfactory) levels. Optimal levels are important because it prevents the storm that happens down the road. Optimal levels help us: reduce our risk of auto immune disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, depression, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and more.
The optimal level in functional medicine is between 50-70 ng/ml
Your body is a really great story teller, the fatigue and depression feelings you have can be a sign you should be tested. Notice that you pick up more colds and illnesses? May want to have your vitamin D level checked. These could all be the first warning signs you are low. In fact, studies are discovering low vitamin D levels in those who have contracted Covid-19. Many hospitals are using vitamin D supplementation for those who have covid-19. The reason vitamin D is so important is because it regulates and controls genes.
If left untreated they are finding that people are at a higher risk of Type 1 diabetes, autoimmune disease, heart disease. Check out the findings through the Mayo Clinic on vitamin D deficiency.
If you have concerns that you may have low vitamin D you are probably thinking “now what?”. We recommend having your levels checked. This is a simple blood test that can be done at any lab. After you have had your levels checked then you need to talk with a professional about your level and what is the best way to reach an optimal level.
Way’s to increase vitamin D
Sunlight – now we know what you are thinking and no we are NOT saying go out and sit in the sun for hours and get burnt. We do however stand behind getting 15 min of direct sunlight on 60-75% of your body. This means put on a tank top and some shorts and go for a walk for 15 min.
Supplement – during the winter months it can be really hard to get sunlight. For those months you can supplement with a quality vitamin D3 that also has K2 in it.
Food – there are foods that contain vitamin D; oily fish, salmon, sardines, red meat, liver and egg yolks. The hard part is you would have to eat 2 servings a day to make up for any lost vitamin D from sunlight or supplementation.
Our suggestion is if you think you are low… get tested. If you have been tested and are low, talk with a health professional about OPTIMAL levels and how you can improve your levels.