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Most of us at this time of the year would have enjoyed a holiday abroad (and possibly still are!) on the very sunny side or, at the very least, we are all making the most of the British summer outdoors in parks, gardens, along rivers, canals, hills, lakes and the seaside of course!

It is renowned that sunshine boosts our mood and that, as a result, we all feel happier in good weather. Our physical activity typically increases with the longer days as we are more drawn to go out for a jog, a run, a power walk or playing tennis in the pleasant summer weather.

One of the greatest benefits resulting from sun exposure is that we are giving our body the chance to produce the much needed daily amount of Vitamin D for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Sunshine is indeed the most effective, natural and most neglected source of vitamin D.

Many studies link the lack of the precious sunshine vitamin to conditions such as osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, certain forms of cancer, heart diseases. According to scientific research, we are able to produce 90% of our vitamin D, through exposure to sunlight which is the intended natural way. Recent reports by the NHS prove that in the UK we should be able to get all the vitamin D that we need just from exposure to sunlight in the months from April to September.

Some foods like all the oily fish, eggs and red meat are also a good source of vitamin D. Vegans and vegetarians like me need to compensate with other foods like fortified almond, soya or any alternative milk of your choice and surely a vitamin D supplement, which in winter is recommended to all in any case.

For now while we still can, let’s make sure that every day we leave our desk or sofa, put our sunshades on and go out and soak in a bit of golden sunshine as much as possible. There is no need to be lying on a rock like a lizard, instead get active so you ‘kill two birds with one stone’.

Also bear in mind to use the sunscreen only onto the most delicate areas, as you need to leave some skin fully exposed (such as on the hands, forearms, lower legs) for the sunlight to be absorbed. A minimum of 15 minutes a day is sufficient for people with fair skin. Those with dark skin need 20 minutes at least.

Past September and all thorough the winter months, we all need to supplement our diets with vitamin D, particularly young people and children, as it’s vital for them to grow healthily and for strong bones in adulthood.

Don’t be fooled by the winter sunlight tough as it is too low in UVB radiation, which is what allows the body to produce vitamin D. Please refer to the official NHS guidelines or see a registered dietitian or nutritionist to find out how much vitamin D you need, as too much isn’t beneficial either.

So now you know, go and find any excuse to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts; on your way to work, during your lunch break, to run an errand or when you leave work. And don’t forget your trainers and sunglasses! ?

Written by Sonia

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