The sun seems to call us outside in the summer, our bodies seem to instinctively know that getting the sun on our skin is a good thing.
And good it is. The sun allows our bodies to produce vitamin D, which despite its name, acts more like a hormone. It’s one of the most important nutrients for keeping us healthy in every way possible, from immune system function to mental health to heart health. It’s also unfortunately something which a huge percentage of us are deficient in.
This is partly due to the UK’s position on the globe (we don’t get a huge amount of sun all year round), partly due to our indoor lifestyles and partly due to the excess body fat some of us carry. Vitamin D is fat soluble, which means that the more body fat you’re carrying, the more vitamin D you’ll need.
We store vitamin D in our liver, and if we’re fully topped up, our stores can last for up to 3 months; which explains why we tend to feel a bit tired, fed up and start to crave more sugary foods (for the serotonin release which vitamin D would otherwise promote) around December / January time.
There has become a lot of worry about exposure to the sun without sun cream or being covered up, but actually, for someone who is not at a high risk of skin cancer, the benefits of the right amount of sun outweigh the risk.
If you’re not at a high risk of skin cancer, you can relax more than the current guidelines suggest and enjoy some time in the sun without sun cream. The right amount of exposure to the sun depends on your skin type and how easily you burn, as well as the strength of the sun. The time can vary between a minute and an hour, before you’ll want to either go inside, cover up or put on some sun cream.