someone holding a mug under the setting sun in the background

Summer - Vitamin D and Sunshine!

Summer - Vitamin D and Sunshine

Summer is here and the sun is shining bright! Vitamin D, or the Sunshine Vitamin, is produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It is an important nutrient that promotes calcium absorption and can help support bone health, heart health, immune function, muscle function, including nervous system function. Vitamin D can be found in fortified foods (like dairy products, plant milks, cereals, and some fruit juices), fatty fish (like salmon, sardines, and tuna), and mushrooms, but the skin can also synthesize some Vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun! 

Even though sun exposure is important, however, we must remember to protect our skin and eyes from the damaging effects of the sun’s rays.

The sun emits radiation known as UV-A and UV-B rays. Both types can damage your eyes and skin:

  • UV-B rays have short wavelengths that reach the outer layer of your skin
  • UV-A rays have longer wavelengths that can penetrate the middle layer of your skin

By learning the risks associated with too much sun exposure and taking the right precautions to protect you and your family from UV rays, everyone can enjoy the sun and outdoors safely.

 Here are the harmful things unprotected sun exposure can do:

  • Cause vision problems and damage to your eyes
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Premature aging of the skin
  • Skin cancer

Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize the risk that comes with sun exposure.

  1. Cover Up: Wearing a Hat (preferably wide brimmed) or other shade-protective clothing can partly shield your skin from the harmful effects of UV ray exposure. Proper clothing may include long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats, and Sunglasses - for eye protection.
  2. Stay in the Shade: The sun's glare is most intense at midday. Staying in the shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. will further protect your skin. The sun can still damage your skin on cloudy days or in the winter. For this reason, it is important to stay protected throughout the year.
  3. Choose the Right Sunscreen: This is extremely important. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) new regulations for sunscreen labeling recommend that your sunscreen have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and should protect against both Ultraviolet A (UV-A) and Ultraviolet B (UV-B) rays.
  4. Use the Right Amount of Sunscreen: According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, most people apply only 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. When out in the sun, it's important that you apply at least one ounce (a palmful) of sunscreen every two hours. You should apply it more often if you are sweating or swimming, even if the sunscreen is waterproof.

So how much sunlight exposure is needed to get enough for Vitamin D production?  Well, because sun exposure can cause skin damage, most experts recommend utilizing the fortified foods, mentioned earlier, as a way to supplement Vitamin D needed in excess of that obtained when enjoying the outdoors.  

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Seasonal Foods and Recipes

Some heart-healthy inspiration just for you!

Here are some recipes that can help you get your Vitamin D: 

Honey Soy Salmon: This irresistibly sweet and savory salmon deserves a spot on your table this week! 

Mango Smoothie With Yogurt: Try out this summery mango smoothie using a Vitamin D-fortified dairy or plant-based yogurt! 

Mushroom Lovers Pasta: Rich, cheesy, and got Vitamin D? Don't miss out on this vegetarian pasta!


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