For many of us in the Northwest, it’s been a long season of dreary days of rain and overcast skies. But spring has brought us not only days of more rain, but also glorious days of sun. Like many who live in the Northwest, my vitamin D levels are too low for much of the year, forcing me to supplement during the rainy season.

But the days of sun this spring have reminded me that my supplement days will soon be over because my favorite vitamin D supplement is coming out soon: the sun! (And if you haven't read Why I don't wear sunscreen, you should.)

Why I love the sun

Here’s why I like getting my vitamin D from the sun – it’s the most natural way to get vitamin D. I take supplements under protest, but I much prefer the most natural way of getting nutrient levels up – usually that means eating nutrient-rich foods. But sunbathing in moderation is one of the best ways to get your vitamin D levels up. And vitamin D is an important nutrient to get because healthy levels are associated with decreased risks of heart disease, certain cancers, and help with good bone health. Plus, I just find spending a short amount of time in the sun each day a spirit lifter and a great way to relax and re-energize.

How this works

According to the Vitamin D Council, “Your body is designed to get the vitamin D it needs by producing it when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. The part of the sun’s rays that is important is ultraviolet B (UVB). This is the most natural way to get vitamin D. Large amounts of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) are made in your skin when you expose all of your body to summer sun. This happens very quickly — around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn. This could be just 15 minutes for a very fair skinned person, yet a couple of hours or more for a dark skinned person.”

As the Vitamin D Council clearly states, you don’t want to go overboard in sunbathing, as that is what leads to skin cancer and skin damage. For those of us with light skin, it’s a fast process to get enough vitamin D from the sun during the summer. One way that you can help prevent sunburn (besides limiting time in the sun) is by eating these beautiful foods.

To read more of the specifics about sunbathing to up your vitamin D, check out this page from the Vitamin D Council.

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