the sun is more than a vitamin

I talk about vitamin D a lot. It’s useful for healthy bones, healthy immunity, healthy levels of inflammation, healthy mood. In the past decade it’s gotten a lot of press.

But in the same way whole foods are a better source of nutrients than a multivitamin, there are things the sun can do that a supplement cannot. When it comes to health, Nature almost always does it better. And it turns out that sun is more than a vitamin. 

A 2016 review published in the journal Dermatoendocrinology offers a lot of science to back this notion. If you’re feeling super geeky, you can read the whole thing for free here.

If you’re less geeky, or don’t have the time to spend, here some bullet points.

  • Is sunshine good for you? Yes.
  • Is sunburn bad for you? Yes.
  • Does sunscreen prevent melanoma? Not so much.
  • Does a base tan prevent melanoma? Yes.

Also, and importantly, the review shows ways in which sunshine helps health irrespective of Vitamin D levels. In other words, and in at least some cases, the sun is doing the healing, not the vitamin we make from it. For instance, the authors found that:

  • Sunshine (but not Vitamin D) helps prevent obesity.
  • Sunshine helps you see better (by preventing short sightedness.)
  • Sunshine boosts your mood.

The bottom line: Get outside.

Does that mean you don’t need Vitamin D supplements? The jury is still out on that. We know that lower Vitamin D levels are associated with impaired health on many levels. What we don’t know is whether the low Vitamin D is a cause or an effect. I generally find patients with low Vitamin D levels feel better with supplementation — especially in northern latitudes.

The first step is to get your Vitamin D levels checked. This is a standard blood test doctors can order along with your cholesterol and similar tests as part of an annual preventive visit.

I like to see my patients’s Vitamin D in the 50-100 ng/mL range. If their levels are low, we talk about why that may be the case and decide how to proceed.

So get outside every day, because nature is the first and the best healer. Getting your Vitamin N (Nature) will help your health, with and without Vitamin D.

And if you want to get your Vitamin D levels checked, let’s talk. Click the button below to make an appointment.




Read more about Vitamin D here:


Photo by Alyssa Sieb on Nappy.