Vitamin D is SO good for you! I’m not making this up. A new study suggests getting a daily dose of sunlight prevents “pound creep.” Meaning, if you have enough vitamin D (most adults don’t), you’ll stop yourself from gaining weight.
In the study, scientists overfed mice and exposed them to ultraviolet light to mimic sunlight. The sunbathing mice ate less, and lowered blood glucose levels and had fewer signs of insulin resistance (which is an early step on the path to diabetes)
On the surface, it’s easy to say vitamin D was responsible for these benefits. However, another chemical–nitric oxide, released by the skin when exposed to sunlight–turned out to be the hero in this study
Scientists rubbed a cream with nitric oxide on the mice, and it had the same effect as the UV light.
If it worked for mice, will it really work for humans? Well, we’d need more studies to say for sure. This study gives us more clues that we need vitamin D and sunshine in our lives…and slathering ourselves and kids with sunscreen every time we set our foot outdoors could be a huge mistake.
I’m not saying to bake in the sun unprotected…you’ll get wrinkles, sunburn, and put yourself at risk for skin cancer. But a little bit of unprotected sun is good for you!
So, go ahead and slip into that sundress and sit out on the deck while you watch your weight!
Most Adults Are Vitamin D-ficient! Here’s Why…
I’m willing to bet you’re deficient in vitamin D. If you’re over the age of 40, listen up. This will affect you the most in ways you don’t want it.
First, let’s go over why you have a deficiency so we can overcome it:
- Skin tone: The more melanin your skin contains, the less vitamin D you’ll produce. In fact, African Americans may need six times as much sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as people with fair skin.
- Sunscreen: If you’re constantly slathering on sunscreen, you’re creating a barrier that stops your skin from making vitamin D. Save that lotion for the times you’ll be in the sun for longer than half an hour.
- What you wear: Your fashion choices could be blocking vitamin D production! If you’re covering your skin with long pants and long-sleeved shirts–and even hats–you’ll get a much smaller dose of vitamin D when you’re in the sun…than if you’re in shorts or a sundress. So make sure your skin gets exposed to the sun directly, so it can synthesize vitamin D!
- Pollution: Pollutants can block UV rays from reaching your skin. Heavy pollution can reduce available UV rays by 60%. So if you’re in a high pollution city, make a weekend trip to the lake where the air is fresh and the sun is shining once in awhile!
- Gut health: I always talk about the gut. That’s because it’s so crucial to your health. A sick gut absorbs less vitamin D than a healthy gut. To keep your gut glowing and promote optimal vitamin D absorption, take probiotics, drink bone broth and eat fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut on a regular basis.
- Age: As you get older, your skin gets less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D. That means you need more sun exposure to get the same benefit.
- Weight: If you’re overweight, you’re more likely to be deficient in vitamin D. And here’s another caution: Gastric bypass surgery can also put you at risk, by reducing the ability of your intestines to absorb vitamin D!
- Medications: If you take cholesterol-lowering drug cholestyramine or anti-seizure medication sodium valproate, you’re at a higher risk of having a vitamin D deficiency.
Now that you understand what’s causing this deficiency, how do you get vitamin D?
How to Get More Vitamin D, Naturally
Simply put, the best way to get vitamin D is to catch some rays every day. But that may be tough in the wintertime or if you’re in a less-than-sunny region or if you work indoors all day.
One way to get more of this vital vitamin is to fill your diet with vitamin D-rich foods. Fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), eggs, beef liver, and mushrooms are all packed with vitamin D.
Although, that’s not exactly enough to overcome a deficiency (you’d have to eat a lot of salmon!).
I always recommend a vitamin D supplement–I take one every day for that exact reason…and I still get plenty of sunshine!
And since summer is coming up, here are some tips for being smart about obtaining sunshine.
If You Can Get Sunshine Regularly, Protect Your Skin Naturally
Remember: don’t be afraid of the sun–just be smart about it.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) researched sunscreens and found 80% of those sold in the US offered inadequate protection against UVA rays and/or contained potentially harmful chemical ingredients.
Plus, The FDA called SPF values more than 50+ are “inherently misleading,” because guess what? They don’t even offer additional protection from the sun! It’s so misleading, the sale of these sunscreens are banned in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia. So avoid those, too.
Just like you could eat foods with vitamin D, you can also eat foods that provide UV protection. That’s right, the foods you eat could protect your skin. (And I’m not recommending your eat sunscreen!)
Once again, fish rich in omega-3 fatty acid, such as wild salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines all provide UV protection. They’re not just great for your heart. Studies show these help protect cells from free radical damage and protects against some types of skin cancer.
Dark, leafy greens and cruciferous veggies are loaded with skin-protecting antioxidants and have been shown to be cancer-protective in general. Plus, in my Bone Broth Diet, you get PLENTY of these in your daily delicious meals to drop the pounds!
Red and orange fruits and veggies like oranges, red peppers, tomatoes, and carrots. Eat a variety of these for skin protecting lycopene and beta-carotene.
Drink green tea. Turns out, my favorite tea helps prevent non-melanoma skin cancer. It’s also full of polyphenols, which inhibit cancer development. And it tastes great, too!
Eat the right oils. You definitely want to avoid poor quality oil, and you also want to consume healthy oils. These include coconut, olive, sesame, borage, evening primrose, and avocado oils. They help keep your skin resistant to sun damage. And coconut and olive oil can block about 20% of UV rays if you apply it to your skin!
Apply Vitamin E. Natural forms of vitamin E such as alpha-tocopherol or tocotrienol has been shown to protect skin from the sun and reduce the length and depth of wrinkles. Double whammy!
Soothe with Aloe Vera. Aloe vera gel feels SO good after a day in the sun. It heals your skin and it calms and relieves any irritation or redness. Your skin will love it!
If You Must Use Sunscreen, Select it Carefully
You know most sunscreens are bad for your skin, so how do you choose a safe one?
- Look for sunscreen without parabens, carcinogens, and oxybenzone. These are harmful to your skin and may generate free radicals when exposed to ultraviolet light. Researchers suggest oxybenzone is the hidden cause of the increase in melanoma.
- Avoid higher SPFs. Remember how misleading these high SPF sunscreens are? Well, beyond that, they require higher concentrations of sun-filtering chemicals, making it more riskier and harmful to your health. These chemicals penetrate your skin when you apply them, and can cause issues like hormone disruption and tissue damage. Plus, they aren’t proven to reduce skin damage or risk of skin cancer. So it’s a lose-lose situation you put yourself in.
- Opt for mineral sunscreens. While some may contain few chemical ingredients, they’re still the safer option. Just make sure it contains no nano particles of zinc oxide or titanium oxide. If it does, these can penetrate your skin!
Finally, only use sunscreen for long stays in the sun–over 30 minutes. Anything shorter than that, you can go unprotected and soak up those rays to generate more vitamin D for a boosted mood and overall better health!
And remember, if you can’t get sunshine regularly, take a vitamin D supplement (like my SLIM Sunshine) to reap its benefits…you’re likely deficient, anyway!
Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!