The Benefits and Importance of the Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is a nutrient that is vital for good health and is primarily obtained through sun exposure.  While it is possible to get Vitamin D from food sources and supplements, sun exposure is the most effective way to get the necessary level to get its health benefits. However, too much sun exposure can lead to skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer, making it important to strike a balance between getting enough Vitamin D and avoiding sunburn. 


Here are some of the key benefits of Vitamin D and why it is important for overall health: 

1.Supports Bone Health: Vitamin D is essential for the proper absorption of calcium, which is necessary for strong bones. Adequate Vitamin D levels can help to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle. 


2.Boosts the Immune System: Vitamin D plays a crucial role in supporting the immune system. Research has shown that adequate levels of Vitamin D can help to prevent the development of certain diseases, such as the flu, and improve the functioning of the immune system. 


3.Supports Cardiovascular Health: Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Adequate Vitamin D levels can help to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation, which can help to reduce the risk of these conditions. 


4.Promotes Mental Well-being: Vitamin D has been linked to mental well-being and has been shown to improve symptoms of depression and cognitive function. 


5.Reduces the Risk of Certain Diseases: Vitamin D has been shown to help prevent certain diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, and certain types of cancer, such as colon, breast, and prostate cancer. 


6.Improves Muscle Function: Vitamin D is important for muscle function and can help to reduce the risk of falls and improve muscle strength in older adults. 


In the Philippines, the warm climate and abundant sunlight make it an ideal place for getting enough Vitamin D from the sun. However, it is still important to be mindful of the amount of sun exposure and to protect the skin from sunburn. The first step in striking this balance is to understand the right amount of sun exposure required to produce Vitamin D. In general, it is recommended to get 10-15 minutes of sun exposure on the face and arms, two to three times a week, during the mid-day when the sun is at its highest. However, this amount may vary depending on several factors, including skin type, season, latitude, and time of day. People with darker skin require more sun exposure to produce Vitamin D, so it is important to pay attention to individual needs.  


While getting enough sun is important, it is also essential to protect your skin from the harmful effects of excessive sun exposure. This can be done by limiting sun exposure to short periods, avoiding the sun during peak hours typically between 10 am to 4pm, and using protective clothing and sunscreen. When selecting a sunscreen, it is important to choose one with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 and to apply it evenly to all exposed skin.  


Aside from the sun, Vitamin D can also be obtained through food sources such as eggs, fatty fish, and fortified dairy products. Adding these food sources into your diet can help to increase your Vitamin D intake and reduce the need for sun exposure. It is also important to monitor your Vitamin D levels and speak with a healthcare provider if you have concerns. In some cases, a Vitamin D supplement may be necessary to maintain optimal levels, especially during the winter months when sun exposure is limited. 

So, make sure to bask in the sun’s warm glow, eat nutrient-rich foods, and talk to your healthcare provider about your Vitamin D needs to optimize your overall health and wellness. 



About The Author

Dr. Coco is a highly-educated and well-qualified primary care physician who graduated from the University of the Philippines Baguio with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. She completed her three-year residency training in Family Medicine at Brokenshire Medical Center. She passed her diplomate exams in Family Medicine, given by the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians in 2018. 


Dr. Coco is dedicated to providing comprehensive and holistic care for her patients. She is a primary care physician who believes in delivering continuing comprehensive health care for all. To her, patients are not just a number as she takes time to analyse how she can improve their overall health every chance they can get. 

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