October 31, 2016

My Take on Sunshine and Vitamin D

How much time do you spend in the sun every day? Do you ALWAYS wear sunscreen? Do you ever wear sunglasses? At the end of the semester last school year I was inside all day every day. I had so many quizzes to take, exams to do, and classes to finish before the summer. I sorta forgot about my health and my whole focus was on school and nothing but it. I didn’t get much sun either. I was indoors all day and didn’t get out of the house but a few times a week. My health started drastically declining.
I was feeling utterly crummy all day. My Mom would go into our backyard and sit in the sun and she invited me to come sit with her on multiple occasions but really, sitting in the sun? I had better things to do! We started going on mini outings during the summer to parks and museums and I started getting more sun. And you know what? I started to feel better. It was about three LOOONG months of crumminess before I had an epiphany. “Wait a minute” I thought. “I started feeling crummy at the end of the semester when I wasn’t getting any sun. Then, I started feeling better on the days that we went to the park and got outside!” My curiosity was peaked. I started sitting in the sun for just a couple of minutes each day and I could NOT believe myself. Yup. I got completely better. I was ecstatic! I told everyone and anyone! I was SO excited! I had made a HUGE breakthrough! I guess my Mom knew what she was doing after all! After I did some research, I found that when you sit in the sun and let your skin soak up its beautiful rays, your body converts it to the oh-so necessary vitamin D. I also learned that the vitamin D in your body is critical in proper digestion! No wonder I was feeling so crummy! One other fact that put me over the top is that people with Celiac Disease (that's me!) have a hard time retaining vitamin D in their bodies due to malabsorption of vitamins and minerals in the gut. This means that my body wasn’t maximizing the vitamin D it already had! Connecting the dots had never felt so good! Even these days I sometimes forget to get my sunshine but my body lets me know if I go more than a couple days without getting enough rays. I am sure the topic of skin cancer is a tad frightening but we are forgetting that our bodies were created to live in the warm sunshine. Our bodies special have mechanisms to keep us safe. As long as we are good stewards of our bodies and take care to not get burned or overdo it, we will reap the benefits!
There are a couple of things to remember when getting sun. First, maximize the skin that gets sun. I don’t mean going around undressed but I do mean rolling up your sleeves and wearing shorts. Everyone is different, you just have to find what works for you! It is really important to wear sunglasses when getting your sun. Your eyes are super delicate and the skin on your face is not the best for converting sunshine to vitamin D so it is good to keep them covered. It is best to stick with your arms and legs! Also, DON’T OVERDO IT! Yes I am saying we all need sun, no I am not saying you should burn yourself. You don’t even want to be pink! People who live in high altitude don’t need nearly as much sun as people in low altitude due to the harshness of the sun. It varies greatly depending on who you are and where you live-for example, here at about 7,000 feet of elevation, all I need is about 10 minutes a day whereas in Wisconsin, you might need 20 or 30 minutes because the sun isn't so harsh. Sunscreen is a good idea when you know you will be in the sun for long periods of time but not always. It blocks you from getting the vitamin D that you need. 
Sunshine and the resulting vitamin D are an extremely important part of health that I have found to be one thing that my body can’t do without. I believe that there are SO many issues that people are dealing with and they just don’t realize it. I was starting to accept the fact that the new norm for me was feeling crummy only to find a breakthrough. I hope that people start to realize that their crumminess IS NOT normal and that our bodies want to be healthy as much as we do. We just need to figure out what they need to thrive.

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