I am not a big promoter of supplements and magic pills. This has cost me some business, and I'm totally good with that. I strongly believe in the power of our food, if we focus on eating meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar, to provide us with all of the micronutrients we need. However, there is one micronutrient that is difficult for us to obtain through our diet, not because we don't have access to eating the right foods, but rather that we don't get enough time in the sun. That micronutrient is Vitamin D.
Despite the importance of vitamin D, it’s estimated that anywhere from 30% to 80% of the U.S. population is vitamin D insufficient. For us Montanans, we make make absolutely ZERO vitamin D from the sunlight between November and March.
GUESS WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT TODAY? Today is March 10th, which means we are near enough to the sun, at our latitude, that we can FINALLY get our Vitamin D from sun exposure! WOOOHOOOO! It's time to get outside people!
Because Vitamin D is one of the most common micronutrient inadequacies it's also one of the most studied. A nutrient inadequacy differs from a deficiency in that a deficiency causes a disease, in the case of Vitamin D a deficiency causes rickets and osteomalacia. Vitamin D inadequacy doesn't cause a disease, but neither does it promote optimal health.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble micronutrient that promotes calcium absorption, it also modulates cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function and reduces inflammation. Can you guess what might cause cell growth and inflammation, and requires neuromuscular function? You guessed it, high-intensity workouts and weight lifting. From March - November, spending more time in the sun, like going for a walk in the middle of your day, will not only give you enough sun exposure to generate Vitamin D, it will also help you recover from CrossFit.
When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. UVB rays cannot penetrate through windows. So people who work next to sunny windows still need sun exposure to make Vitamin D.
Research suggests that midday is the best time for exposure since the sun is at its highest point and your body may manufacture it most efficiently around that time of day. Taking a 30 min walk with your face, hands and/or arms exposed three times per week during the spring is enough to produce Vitamin D. In the summer, the sun is closer and we wear less clothes (shorts and short sleeved shirts) and we can get adequate Vitamin D from shorter exposure times. Just 10-15 mins, three times a week, will make all the Vitamin D we need. If you're exposed longer, you can use sunscreen to protect your skin.
Let's celebrate spring by taking a walk at noon and harnessing solar power to make an essential micronutrient! You can expect that now that our parking lot is ice and snow free we will restart our post-workout cool-down walks. To your good health!
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