For the northern parts of Australia and New Zealand, winter weather encourages us to have picnics and barbecues, go camping, fishing, hiking, utilise bike trails. It’s the season that screams “just get outside”; move your body, shake your bootie and sculpt your summer body.
Southern areas, however, experience more of a real winter with less outdoor time and less sunshine. For people who live in colder climates or work full time indoors, lack of sunshine can be a real issue in winter.
Sunshine is the greatest source of Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency affects around 40% of the industrial population and almost 50% of people in Australia's southeastern states in winter1.
Symptoms of deficiency include:
• mood variations
• increased pain sensitivity
• muscle weakness
• blood pressure issues
• limited endurance
• bone and joint weakness
• lowered immunity
Although there are a few food sources of Vitamin D: wild-caught fatty fish, chicken and beef liver, egg yolks, mushrooms and raw grass-fed dairy; the best resource is the sun.
Our body produces Vitamin D when we expose our skin (sunscreen free for 5-10 minutes) to UV rays.
So it stands to reason that the benefits of being outside far outweigh the reasons we stay inside, especially around this time of year.
Fresh Air– Air pollution indoors can be up to 10 times worse than outside due to poor ventilation, paint and cleaning chemical fumes, mould and personal care products.
Decreased Anxiety– Winter can induce a seasonal decline in mood due to a lack of natural light. When the sun is shining, utilising the outdoors more increases the opportunity to absorb UVB and produce Vitamin D. Time spent away from normal, routine life, as in camping, can boost immunity, lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Research suggests that being in nature can inspire creativity, reduce anxiety and increase feelings of wellness. It’s a win, win!
Sunlight directly or indirectly supports all life.
Cast your mind back to year 9 biology and photosynthesis, the process by which plants and other organisms produce energy from sunlight (basically).
Even if you’re not in the sun often, chances are you’re eating something that utilises the sun for energy (fingers crossed!).
Sunshine (UVB) is absorbed by our bodies too and converted into vitamin D so long as there is no sunscreen blocking the way.
Vitamin D is responsible for multiple biological functions within the body that contribute to keeping us healthy.
These functions include:
• regulation of minerals in the blood
• bone growth
• immune responses
• reduced inflammation
• boosts brain function and neural pathways
Some of the benefits of getting enough vitamin D include:
• reduced Internal Inflammation
• decreased auto-immune response
• improved brain function
• improved immunity
• enhanced sleep
Vitamin D is critical to our general wellbeing; our health, mental and physical; our digestion; our hormone balance; our immunity system.
And as a bonus, vitamin D levels can be tested, quite easily, with a simple blood sample.
So on your next sunny winter day, head outdoors, spend time with friends, throw a frisbee, play back-yard cricket, go back-yard camping, whatever!
You can’t go wrong being outdoors at this time of year to soak up the sunshine. You may even produce and store ample vitamin D to see you through until next winter!
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics 'Australian Health Survey: Biomedical Results for Nutrients, 2011-12' updated 15/04/2014
Nohr, M. (2019). Vitamin D Deficiency Common Symptoms & Solution (Website). Retrieved, 28 May 2019; from: https://drjockers.com/vitamin-d-deficiency/
Jockers, D. (2019). How Vitamin D Stops Cancer Stem Cells (Website). Retrieved, 28 May 2019; from: https://drjockers.com/vitamin-d-stops-cancer-stem-cells/
Jockers, D. (2019). Comprehensive Fatty Acid & Vitamin D Panel (Website). Retrieved 28 May 2019; from: https://drjockers.com/product/comprehensive-fatty-acid-and-vitamin-d-panel/
Leanne is a certified Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Integrative Health Coach and Lead Instructor for NTA Australia/NewZealand. She hopes to change the health of future generations through loving support and knowledge. Find Leanne at purecorenourishment.com.au