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When the summer starts and the sun sneaks out I often see my clients begin to lose more body fat than you would expect. While the sun certainly acts as a good motivator as well as making exercise a more attractive a proposition another factor contributing to these changes is Vitamin D levels.

Sunlight directly affects our health through its ability to synthesize Vitamin D. Anything that improves our health has the potential to lower body fat too. Vitamin D is a key element in our body. It controls calcium absorption, differentiation and maturation of cells. It influences cell destruction and switches genes on and off. It also acts as a hormone which affects cell growth signals and the activity of the immune system

Sunlight produces vitamin D within the skin.  For this to occur the body must receive adequate amounts of UV radiation. This is determined by your latitude on the earth, cloud cover and whether or not you go outside.

Latitude is an important factor because in the UK and many parts of the USA we are only provided with adequate amounts of sunlight between April and September. This is the reason so many people are diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder or anecdotally speak of how they feel so much worse in the winter. This is because their vitamin D metabolism has been upset by the lack of sunlight.

The controversy of sunlight

For a long time we have been continually told of how dangerous the sun is, how we must never go out in it and should always cover up when we are going out. This advice has been twisted and confused with the real evidence and now is causing more problems than it ever solved.

To understand the issue you must first realize the interaction of vitamin D and sunlight. Vitamin D is the body’s natural sunlight protector. The more sun you are exposed to the more vitamin D produced and the accompanying darker tan you have. The darker your skin becomes the less vitamin D your body produces.

This means that having a darker skin pigmentation means you will need more exposure than a lighter skin. For example, Asian and black people need 6 times longer than white people to produce equal amounts of vitamin D.

Many studies have shown that the more sun light a person receives, (therefore more vitamin D is produced) the lower the incidence of skin cancer. It is also noted how vitamin D deficiency causes a host of diseases. Current research suggests Vitamin D deficiency increases chances of many chronic diseases including 16 types of cancer nervous system diseases, diabetes and many other conditions.

The majority of the advice for the UK has come from data and misinterpretation of research studies using Australia’s sun policy. Australia is situated on the same line of latitude as Spain and not at 50 degrees north like the UK.

How much sun do we need?

Current government recommendations state a few minutes with just your hands and face exposed will produce suitable vitamin D synthesis. The reality is that for people in the UK and much of the North America the sun is too weak for this.

For optimal health it would be recommended to expose as much of your body as possible in bright sunlight for three 10 minutes periods per week (10 minutes per side = 20 minutes in total front and back). Black people may need 6 times this amount, e.g. three 60 minute sessions of exposure.

Sun exposure and sun burn

Much of the bad press sunlight has been given comes from sun burn frequency and severity. There is a fundamental difference between sun exposure / gentle tanning and sun burn. The latter indeed proves negative upon your health. The former though, as long as done in sufficient quantities and without burning will provide the many health benefits through increased vitamin D. If your skin is sensitive towards the sun then you may need to build up to the recommended sun exposures.

Obtaining enough vitamin D.

The optimal levels of vitamin D can be obtained through adequate sun exposure in the summer months (year round at more tropical latitudes).

In winter months it is advised to take a vitamin D supplement. However, when supplementing with vitamin D it is wise to have your level measured by your doctor to ensure you do not have too much within your body.

House hold Lighting

To help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with a lack of sunlight try using full-spectrum light bulbs in your home and at work. The lack of natural light can diminish immune efficiency. It has been estimated that up to a quarter of the population may suffer from a condition known as SADS, Seasonal Affective Disorder Syndrome. Seasonal symptoms include weight gain, oversleeping, listlessness, social withdrawal, irritability, anxiety and loss of libido.

Lack of sufficient natural light disturbs the body's inherent circadian rhythms which depend on the regular sequence of light (day) and darkness (night), resulting in abnormal production of the hormone melatonin and the neurotransmitter, serotonin. SADS can be resolved with daily exposure to a natural, full-spectrum light source manufactured for that purpose.

Please note full spectrum light does not make up for regular sun exposure in regards to vitamin D production

This article is written from the research and book by Oliver Gille. To download his free report Sunlight robbery or to buy a bound copy please follow this link.

Take this attitude further for great results.

If you want to adopt this attitude and then use metabolic typing, exercise and EFT to achieve your health and fitness goals then consider working with me through personal training here in London or On line.

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