As the days are getting shorter and the temperature outside is dropping, I find myself making more of a conscious effort to spend some quality time in the sunshine.
After having a blood test last September, my doctor told me that I was Vitamin D deficient. So deficient that he suggested I start taking a supplement straight away. At first I was really suprised at the news, especially as I had spent some dedicated time out in the sunshine. However, as I began to research the topic, I found some obvious yet mind shattering realisations.
But first – what exactly is Vitamin D? Its a “vitamin” that you get from sunlight exposure (or UV radiation, to be precise) on the skin and is responsible for stong bones, muscles and overall health.
During Winter the strength of the sun’s UV radiation is much lower, meaning we need more of it to produce sufficient amounts of Vitamin D. During Summer, in comparison, we would get sufficient Vitamin D from routine activities such as walking out to the car. Winter weather brings with it fewer sunlight hours during the day, and unconsciously deters us from spending prolonged time outdoors. The days are also shorter, with many of us waking up and coming home from work in the dark.
Benefits of Vitamin D for Diabetics
In addition to stong bones and muscles, here are some other benefits of Vitamin D in relation to Diabetes, according to diabetes.co.uk.
- Stronger immune system. Our bodies are better equipped to fight off any illnesses, injuries and infections, and blood sugar levels are less likely to go out of control from being unwell.
- Improved Insulin Sensitivity for Type 2 Diabetics. Type 2 Diabetics can enjoy better blood sugar levels and reduced reliance on diabetes medication and insulin, when combined with healthy lifestyle changes.
- Mental Wellness and Positivity. Sunlight makes us happy! A positive mindset gives Diabetics more motivation to maintain stable blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of developing depression.
- Weight Loss. Vitamin D helps reduce parathyroid levels, which can aid weight loss. Weight loss can lead to greater insulin sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetics, and improved blood glucose control.
- Increased Satiety. Vitamin D increases the hormone leptin in the body, which triggers the feeling of fullness and reduced hunger. You’ll be less tempted to snack and send your blood sugar levels out of control when you’re feeling satisfied!
Tips for Boosting Vitamin D intake during Winter
Although my doctor proposed taking a supplement, I wanted to first try and boost my Vitamin D intake naturally. The best source of Vitamin D exposure is, after all, sunlight exposure. Living in Australia, there’s really no excuse not to do it naturally. Even during Winter we still have significant hours of daylight compared to some of our counterparts in the northern hemisphere. Here are my personal tips for boosting Vitamin D during those cooler months.
- Sit out in the sunshine. I drag my chair out into the sunshine while I have my afternoon cup of tea after work. You could also read a book, play with your smartphone or just be with your thoughts.
- Don’t cover up. Wear light clothing such as a T-Shirt and Shorts and make sure your skin is exposed.
- Don’t wear sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks the absorbtion of UV radiation on the skin.
- Avoid prolonged periods in the sun. Prolonged UV radiation can still cause sunburn and skin cancers. The trick is finding some middle ground.
- 2-3 hours of Winter sunlight exposure spread across the week is recommended by Better Health Channel Victoria, and just a few minutes per day during summer when UV radiation is stronger.
Definitely something to think about as we head into the cooler months of the year. Make the most of the sunshine this ANZAC Day long weekend!