When it comes to nutrition, most people have a pretty good handle on what foods are healthy and what foods have a negative impact on their overall health. The bigger question though is: what’s missing? While eating fresh fruits and veggies, good fats like those from olive and coconut oil, and protein and fiber-rich foods may be very important to your nutrition, you may be missing one key ingredient: the sun.
The sun provides UV rays, which our skin cells use to manufacture vitamin D. The caveat to sun exposure is that too much is just that — too much. Overexposure to the sun can actually destroy all of the vitamin D your skin produces, and, not only that, can lead to increased risk of skin cancer (Yikes! No thank you.). Depending on their complexion, the average person only needs 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight in order to create enough vitamin D to reach their daily needs. So, as much as you’d like to work on your tan, do it safely, and keep in mind that you’re affecting your overall health when you get a sunburn.
“Ok, so what’s so important about vitamin D?”
There are some pretty awful effects that having a vitamin D-deficient diet can have on the human body. A lack of vitamin D has been associated with heart disease, an increased risk of various cancers, depression, and fatigue in men and women alike, with women also being susceptible to osteoporosis later in life. Aside from all of that, vitamin D is necessary to metabolize calcium, which our body uses to strengthen our bones.
The precursors for vitamin D deficiency may be a little less obvious in men, as the only symptoms they may have are muscle weakness or fatigue, but for women it may play a factor in their menstrual cycle. A regular cycle can be an indicator of bone health, and having an irregular or light cycle can be the body’s way of saying, “Your estrogen levels are out of whack!”. Estrogen plays a significant role in maintaining healthy bones in both men and women (I’m man enough to talk about my estrogen levels, are you?). But according to studies, most women delayed seeing their doctor because they didn’t consider having irregular cycles as being that significant. While your bone density may not seem like your biggest concern in your 20s or 30s, maintaining healthy bones will help you avoid brittle bones and conditions like osteoporosis later in life, especially as women reach menopause.
“Ok, I get it. I need to get outside more.”
You’re damn right you do, especially during the spring/summer months while there are so many events, free classes, and different goings-on to see. Here is a short list of free classes and events to help get you motivated to get outside this month:
Weekly FREE Classes:
Saturdays – Yoga – 10 a.m.
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
Wednesdays – Yoga – 5:30 p.m.
Saturdays – FreeStyle Barre – 10 a.m.
Sundays – Yoga – 10 a.m.
Mondays – Yoga – 5:30 p.m.
Thursdays – Cardio Kickboxing – 5:30 p.m.
Tuesdays & Thursdays – Power Pilates – 6 p.m.
Williamsville, NY – Tops 5K & 10K Run for Roswell and Family Walk
Saturday, August 26 @ 9:30 a.m.
North Tonawanda, NY – Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish 5K
Saturday August 27th @ 11 a.m.
Buffalo, NY – WNY Running Hall of Fame Presents: Tom Donnelly’s Hall of Fame 5K
Friday, September 1st @ 6:30 p.m.
It’s widely known that Buffalo has its fair share of dreary days during the wintertime. That means the we need to rethink our health strategies according to the seasons. The only other way to get our daily dose of ‘The D’ (yeah I said it) is through food or supplementation. Studies in the U.K. have shown that during the month of January it would take the average person 150 minutes of UV exposure in order to achieve sufficient vitamin D levels!
To be fair, we don’t need too much of ‘The D’ (I couldn’t resist) in order to hit our daily intake goals, but standing outside in January just isn’t logical. Eating foods such as eggs, salmon, tuna, cheese, tofu, pork, and some types of mushrooms will keep you at healthy vitamin D levels. If you’re vegan you will have to take a daily vitamin D supplement, which can be found at almost any drugstore or supermarket; the recommended daily dose is 600-800 IU per day for adults.
With the amount of fun family events and FREE classes there is no excuse to NOT to go outside during this last bit of summer. The gym is a great place to stay fit, but don’t forget that exercising in the sunshine can have an amazing effect on your mood and overall health; just try your best not to go for the ‘crispy’ look.