Get Outside! The Connection Between Sunlight and Your Health

| 2 min read

connection between sunlight and health
The first day of spring has come and gone, which means that Michigan will enjoy more sunlight and longer days. Not only does it feel great to come out of hibernation, but exposure to sunshine—and the natural vitamin D that results from that—can improve your physical and mental health. Here’s how:
  • Vitamin D can help prevent certain cancers, such as colon cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer. One study shows that residents in sunny parts of the country exposed to high levels of sunlight had a lower risk of prostate cancer.
  • The sun keeps your bones strong. When exposed to the sun, your body produces vitamin D, which can help your body absorb bone-strengthening calcium. While sunlight is the best source, you can also find vitamin D in salmon and various dairy products.
While it is easier to see the sun in the Spring and Summer, there are options to hit your recommended vitamin D levels year round. “You can also incorporate vitamin D-rich foods into your diet to help you reach the recommended goals,” says Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian and health coach with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Some of the best foods for vitamin D include wild-caught salmon, wild-caught mackeral, mushrooms, fortified milk and yogurt, sardines, beef liver, egg yolks and cheese.”
While you’re out enjoying the sun, don’t forget to be cautious: Too much exposure (especially unprotected) has been attributed to skin cancer. To get the vitamin D you need, expose your skin for five to ten minutes, two to three times per week. After that, you need to make sure you’re using at least a SPF 15 sunscreen.
For more on the importance of vitamin D, check out these other blogs:
Photo credit: Brad Perkins

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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