Many ancients worshipped the sun. In modern times such beliefs would be held as primitive. But during the last decade, there has been a robust and growing body of research that is reestablishing the sun’s central place in our lives - through Vitamin D, which our bodies can produce only in the presence of sunlight.
There are scientists who believe that if ever there is a top nutrient contest, it would be Vitamin D that would win hands down.
Why Vit – D?
So far scientists have identified nearly 3000 genes that are influenced by the vitamin D status of a person. Research findings clearly show that Vitamin D is critical for optimal health
and disease prevention.
For a long time medical science considered sunlight and vitamin D important mainly for absorption of calcium and phosphorus, essential for bone and muscle health. Today, however, vitamin D is linked to many health conditions including Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, Multiple sclerosis, cancer asthma etc.
Vitamin D is also necessary for thyroid function and cardiovascular health. Various research findings have shown correlation between optimum vitamin D levels in and decreased risks of developing auto-immune diseases, chronic inflammation and diabetes. About 90 per cent of the vitamin D needed by the body is produced inside the body itself. However, reports show as many as 80 per cent people in urban India and 70 per cent in rural India are deficient in this vitamin, also known as calciferol. According to studies, this could be because of changing lifestyle, dietary habits and rising air pollution levels
Brightens up your mood:
A little time spent outdoors can help increase the levels of serotonin and release endorphins which brighten up your mood. Sunlight exposure also affects your emotional well-being and helps you ward off depression and stress.
Reduces risk of serious diseases:
Sunlight improves liver function in your body and assists the breaking down of body waste. Lack of Vitamin D also causes softening of bones, leading to deformity and fractures.
Helps you sleep better:
If you have difficulty sleeping, it may be a good idea to step out in the sun. Exposure to sunlight can help you sleep at night. Sunlight shuts off the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone produced at night that makes you feel sleepy. Hence sunlight helps you remain awake during the day and sleep at night.
Sardines, egg yolk are natural sources while vegetarians can consider milk, cereal, yogurt and certain juices fortified with Vitamin D as sources. The epidemic of vitamin D deficiency could also be because of the rising levels of obesity in the country. Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it gets stored in fat cells. So more the fat, lesser is the amount of the vitamin circulating in the bloodstream.
Surya Namaskar is valuable for two reasons. One, it can be a great workout for the whole body – stretching, flexing and toning the muscles, an excellent exercise for weight loss; it offers numerous health benefits beyond the physical level, relaxing the mind, leading it to meditation. Two, Sun Salutation gives you an opportunity to express gratitude to the sun, without which life on earth would be impossible!
Soak it up
About 20-30 minutes of skin exposure over the bare arms and face to sunlight, without application of sunscreen, preferably between 10 am to 3 pm (as maximum ultraviolet B rays
are transmitted during this time) is the ‘cheapest and best’ source of Vitamin D. Here again, going natural will be more effective. Avoid sunscreens - the chemicals in them have side-effects. When you take Vitamin D supplements, only about 60 per cent of it is absorbed as compared to 100 per cent of it when the body makes it through sun exposure. But taking supplements is better than living with low levels of this miraculous vitamin in our bodies.