How to Get Your Vitamins from the Environment
Fruits and veggies are loaded with the good stuff. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other micronutrients help you stay strong and active. But did you know stepping out your front door opens a whole new world of benefits? It’s true!
Being in the sun releases serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates your mood, appetite and body clock (Circadian rhythms). If you’re not getting enough sunlight, you may experience symptoms that stem from low levels of serotonin. In the winter, this is commonly referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Exposure to the sun can trigger your skin to produce vitamin D from cholesterol. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun hits cholesterol in the skin cells. This gives your skin the energy to produce vitamin D. Before heading out, keep these tips in mind:
- Applying sunblock is crucial for protecting your skin—but it also prevents you from getting vitamin D
- Aim for just 10 minutes of sun before applying sunblock
- To maximize your vitamin D production, all you need is 10-30 minutes of sun, three times per week
Make sure you are exposing enough skin to reap the vitamin D rewards. For example, having just your face, neck and hands exposed probably won’t be enough. But wearing a tank top and shorts for 10–30 minutes three times per week is enough for someone with light skin.
Exactly how much vitamin D you get depends on your skin tone. For those with darker skin-tones, more time in the sun is needed to get similar amounts of vitamin D. Why? Darker-skinned people have more melanin, a compound that protects against skin damage and reduces the amount of UVB light absorbed. This means those with darker skin need an additional 30 minutes to three hours to get sufficient vitamin D.
Talk to a doctor
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