Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are in our third month of winter. For some of us, it feels like ages since we have been able to comfortably bask in the sunshine. Allow yourself a moment to envision a perfectly clear day in August. You are relaxing on the coast as the late afternoon sun warms your skin. Imagine the warmth spreading slowly from your head to your fingertips and down to your toes, until you finally slow your breath and find a sense of inner peace.
Why does your body crave the sunshine?
Taking a moment to imagine what it feels like to soak up the sun probably felt wonderful, and may have you counting down the days until summer. So, after a few months of winter, why might your body crave sunshine? According to an article from the Harvard Medical School, it is natural to crave sunlight because it may be a human survival mechanism to ensure that the body maintains an adequate level of vitamin D.
The Sunshine Vitamin
When UV rays strike your skin, the body begins the process of vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D is crucial for human bone health because it allows the intestines to absorb and retain calcium from the food you ingest. Almost all of your body’s calcium is stored in your teeth and bones. Calcium is the foundation for bone growth, repair, density and structure. It is widely known as the mineral that builds strong bones. However, calcium would not be able to perform its essential duties without the assistance from vitamin D.
Soaking up the sunshine for long periods of time is not advised, as it can cause serious damage to the skin. Research shows that spending time in the sun without sunscreen can cause injuries such as sunburn, skin damage or even skin cancer. UV rays can also destroy folate, a vitamin essential for human health. It is best to enjoy the sunlight in the late afternoon, when the UV rays are less powerful. Wearing a hat and using sunscreen can also protect the skin from harm. In order to maintain proper vitamin D levels in your body and avoid harmful UV rays, speak with your doctor about taking supplements. You can also implement more foods and beverages that are fortified with vitamin D into your diet. Orange juice, milk, yogurt and cereal are common food products that are fortified with vitamin D.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
During the long Tacoma winter months, you are more likely to feel symptoms of vitamin d deficiency. A few examples of vitamin D deficiency symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Mood changes or low mood
- Bone pain
Vitamin D Prevents Bone Related Diseases
Sufficient vitamin D and calcium levels in the body may prevent common bone related diseases among adults such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia. These diseases involve weak bones that are susceptible to breaks and fractures, which can lead to very painful injuries. The physicians at Puget Sound Orthopaedics have a prevention first approach when it comes to patient care. We want to help you keep your bones and body properly nourished in order to avoid painful bone diseases and other health related issues.
If you are suffering from a bone related injury, do not hesitate to seek out proper care. The doctors at Proliance Puget Sound Orthopaedics are dedicated to helping the people in our community heal quickly and efficiently from bone related injuries.