Sunshine for Strong Bones*

Artist-Srinivasan Mohan

Want to have strong healthy bones? Then soak up the sun! It’s well known that exposure to sunlight helps in increasing vitamin D production in the skin. Vitamin D, it’s active form known as cholecalciferol, is important for our body as it helps to improve the absorption of calcium and magnesium from our gut, both of which are needed to form strong, healthy bones and teeth and to prevent osteoporosis.
The amount of vitamin D which is absorbed from our diet in the form of food and pills is very minimal; to have adequate levels of vitamin D you need to have some sun ‘shine’ on your skin. Then your body automatically starts the process of synthesizing vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Dark skinned people have greater protection against ultraviolet radiation, than their fairer skinned counterparts. Due to this, dark skinned people need to spend more time out in the sun to make adequate levels of vitamin D than someone with a lighter skin color. The amount of time needed to spend out in the sun to make enough of this vitamin varies based on the time of the year- longer exposure is required during winter than summer. Also the time of the day and the climatic conditions in the area you live in- whether it’s tropical, temperate or polar significantly affect your blood vitamin D levels.
In the modern society a large number of us are vitamin D deficient as we tend to be indoors most of the time during the day, work in closed office spaces etc. Exposure of the skin to the sun regularly, without sunscreen, allows your body to make the necessary levels. The more skin you expose, the greater surface area available for its absorption. Spending about 15 minutes a few times a week out in the sun is usually enough for most people.
Too much sun exposure is associated with the risk of skin cancer, especially in fair skinned people. The benefits outweigh the risks as long as the above factors are kept in mind and the time spent out in the sun is moderate. You should protect yourself with sunscreen if you plan to spend long hours out in the sun.
Regular exercise also builds healthy bones and uplifts your mood. Combine the two, sunshine and regular exercise for good health.
It’s always fun out in the sun!

*The information provided above is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician if you think you are suffering from a medical condition.