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Kendal at Oberlin Blog

Why Modest Daily Sun Exposure is Healthy

Posted by Molly Kavanaugh on Apr 3, 2015 2:53:03 PM

couple-in-sunIn the health-conscious world that we live in, there is often a fine line between recommended practices and those we’re told are “bad for you.” Today’s headlines aim to get attention, but are they really accurate?

There are many resources in the media stating the dangers of sunlight exposure. But did you know the opposite is also true? Avoiding the sunlight altogether can be very detrimental to good health. There are actually many benefits of moderate sun exposure that we don’t want to  overlook.

There are plenty of reasons to go outdoors and enjoy some sun. The immediate gratification of feeling relief from stress is just one of the many! Moderate exposure to the sun regularly permits the cells in our skin to synthesize vitamin D, which helps fend off diseases.

Vitamin D May Aid in Prevention of

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Diabetes Type 1

  • Osteomalacia (softening of bones)

  • Osteoporosis

  • Rickets

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Respiratory Infections

  • Cardiovascular Disease

  • Depression

  • Muscle Spasms

  • Stress

  • Heart Attacks

Living in northern climates makes it more challenging to get enough sunlight to support adequate levels of vitamin D during the winter months. Anyone who resides north of 40 degrees latitude is at higher risk for being deficient. Studies have shown even people who are active in the outdoors have deficiencies by March.

How do I safely obtain the vitamin D levels I need to be healthy? The best way is to spend 5-10 minutes a day in the sun before applying sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15. This is ideal for getting the benefit your body requires without doing any significant damage to your skin. Enjoy the feeling of warmth on your body!

Unable to Get the Sunlight You Need?

But what can you do if you’re unable to get the sunlight you need to keep vitamin D levels sufficient? First check with your physician to see if you have a vitamin D deficiency. If you do, he or she can then recommend the appropriate dosage. For maturing adults, the recommended dose of vitamin D is elevated.

Private research has indicated that the government’s suggestions of 400IU for people 51-70 and 600IU for adults 70+ may not be enough. The proper level is now thought to be 1000IU daily. Look for foods that are fortified with vitamin D, such as milk or orange juice. Vitamin D supplements are also available. If you have concerns, consult with your doctor, who may suggest supplements as an alternative. Keep in mind that supplements exceeding 2000IU per day may cause damage to kidneys and muscle tissue. So, whenever possible, go outside and play in the sunshine to enjoy the benefits of getting your vitamin D naturally.

Are you getting enough vitamin D? Visit Kendal at Oberlin and take a walk around our beautiful 100+ acre campus--and enjoy the sunshine.

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Topics: Healthy Aging

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