Do we need vitamin D in the summer?
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, everybody knows that. During the summer months, we lap it up on holiday or in our back garden, and we (responsibly) bask in the sunshine in the hope that it will clear our skin and keep us happy and healthy. But is the amount of vitamin D we soak up from May to September enough to cover our daily dose, or do we need a bit of a helping hand?
Let’s discuss why vitamin D absorption is so important, the benefits it can provide, and why it’s a good idea to take supplements, even during the warmer months.
What is Vitamin D?
It’s important to be aware of the different vitamins we need to live a healthy life, and vitamin D is one of them. Our bodies simply need a sufficient and regular dose to function properly.
When the sun is out, we produce more of the vitamin, which is why deficiency is much more common during the winter period due to the darker days and colder temperatures. However, the summer only lasts between three to four months a year, so for the other seven to eight months, the sunlight is not strong enough to stimulate the skin and produce a substantial amount of vitamin D. To receive all the vitamin D your body needs you would have to be completely exposed to the summer sun without suncream for 20 to 30 minutes a day during the peak hours of sunlight. Obviously this would make us extremely unwell and carry a significant skin cancer risk.
In the human body, every cell has a vitamin D receptor site, and so this makes it act more like a hormone. When someone is experiencing deficiency, it can lead to lower moods, a poorer immune system, and osteoporosis. So, even though the body produces more vitamin D when it’s sunny, it will not receive enough from the sun as a primary source. Therefore, it’s a good idea to add a supplement to your daily routine to avoid these complications.
What are the benefits of vitamin D?
Vitamin D absorption can provide many benefits for both your mental and physical health. Here are some of the advantages you’ll experience when you receive a sufficient, regular dose:
Muscle and bone strength
Vitamin D absorbs calcium and phosphate from your diet into your body. These minerals are essential for developing and maintaining healthy bones. When increased levels of the active sunshine vitamin are found in the bloodstream, improved muscle function is also reported.
Beneficial for your skin
There’s nothing quite like that healthy glow you receive after a holiday in a warm climate, is there? Whilst you should always be careful during the summer, especially when you’re exposed to hotter weather abroad, a healthy amount of sun absorption can have an incredible healing effect on your skin.
From clearing blemishes to bringing out freckles and softening the surface of the skin, vitamin D can make your complexion appear fresh and radiant.
Boosts your mood
Does your mood seem to be better during summer? A sunny climate, and regular vitamin D exposure genuinely makes people feel happier, healthier and more energetic.
In the UK, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects up to three in 100 people during some stage of their life. Women in their 20s and 30s are four times as likely to experience symptoms than men, with vitamin D deficiency and lack of sun exposure being the main culprit.
Immunity is one of the biggest concerns nowadays and it will continue to be over the coming years. Vitamin D deficiency can have a negative effect on the body’s immune system, which is why it’s important to ensure you receive enough.
Why do we still need vitamin D in the summer?
Ensuring your body gets enough of the sunshine vitamin during the summer is especially important if you know you are susceptible to a deficiency. You should first organise a blood test to establish your vitamin D levels, and then prioritise raising them until they’re healthy. You can do this by combining regular supplements with increasing your natural levels of vitamin D exposure.
Ideally, your body will benefit from taking daily supplements with 2,000 IU per dose to ensure your immune system, bone and muscle strength, and overall health is maintained. As humans, we can store and produce up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D, but this high amount is rarely met because our bodies continually use what we produce. This is why it’s so important to make sure we have enough vitamin D.
If you want to look after your body and mind, it’s sensible to get as much of the sunshine vitamin as safely as you can!