Here’s why you need to spend more time in the sun…
Vitamin D is one of those very important vitamins. It may not be as “glamorous” as the skin-hydrating Vitamin E, immune-boosting Vitamin C, or eye-protecting Vitamin A, but it’s definitely an essential nutrient. Without enough Vitamin D, your body is unable to absorb and utilize calcium. A Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a higher risk of osteoporosis, as well as weaker, more brittle bones.
But here’s a new danger stemming from a Vitamin D deficiency: cardiovascular disease!
The Endocrine Society has published the results of a study that examined the negative effects of Vitamin D deficiencies on overweight and obese children. Researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 300 children between the ages of 6 and 17, with more than 50% of them meeting the criteria for obesity and overweight. The researchers also analyzed cholesterol levels (total, LDL, HDL, etc.) and their serum Vitamin D levels.
Those with Vitamin D levels below 20 ng/ml were considered “deficient”, and it was discovered that a Vitamin D deficiency led to higher levels of atherogenic lipids. These lipids were markers of early cardiovascular disease, as they increased the risk of atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), high cholesterol levels, and cholesterol buildup on the arterial walls. The higher the Vitamin D deficiency, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease as a result of the lipids floating around in the bloodstream.
READ MORE: Vitamin D Deficiency: 5 Signs to Watch
If your child isn’t getting enough time in the sunlight, they may be at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. This is especially true if they are overweight or obese. As this study proved, obesity and overweight led to a higher risk of heart disease when combined with Vitamin D deficiencies.
You may be thinking, “Well why sunlight? What does it matter how long my child spends outdoors?” The answer is simple: sunlight is the best way to get more Vitamin D.
Unlike other Vitamins, you can’t really get Vitamin D from food. There are a few foods that have been enriched with Vitamin D (such as milk or cereals), but the best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Your body is designed to absorb sunlight and turn it into Vitamin D. It then puts the Vitamin D to use strengthening your bones and utilizing calcium.
The amount of time modern children are spending indoors means that they are spending less time outside. Many children remain inside a classroom and their homes for the majority of the day. Without direct sunlight, there is no way for their bodies to absorb enough sunlight to produce sufficient Vitamin D.
Worried that your child is at risk? You should be! Obesity can lead to a wide range of health problems, and now you’ve got a lack of Vitamin C to worry about? It’s time you encourage your child to get outside and get moving.
Exercise is the most effective way to reduce cardiovascular risk. Even mild to moderate exercise can help to burn the lipids floating in your bloodstream. This will lower your cholesterol levels and encourage health cardiovascular function. Add to that the benefits of being outdoors and in direct sunlight, and all of a sudden you have a very good reason to get your kid out of the house. The more time they spend outside moving around, the healthier they’ll be!
But remember: kids tend to do what they see you do, not what they hear you tell them. If you spend most of your time indoors, they’re going to learn that behavior from you. Maybe it’s time that YOU get outdoors and get more sunlight so you can be healthier as well!