by Eric Walsh, MD
As New Englanders, we all know that today’s sunshine could very easily be tomorrow’s storm. Brief exchanges and lengthy conversations happily center around the weather. Last weekend, as I was grabbing a gallon of milk from our corner convenience store, I smiled when hearing the familiar, “Better stock up, we got ten inches in the forecast.” Heading back to my car, I looked up at the star-filled sky. No matter what the day brings, and in the spirit of the Oscars, I encourage you to GET OUT! Spending time outside, as often as you can, is not only good for the mind, but also the body. Whether it’s breathing in fresh air, appreciating the energy of the streets, or admiring the beauty of the trees, our bodies thrive on Vitamin D. Not surprisingly, the average person’s Vitamin D level drops in the winter months, affecting us in a number of ways. Vitamin D is an important contributor to our bone health, muscle health, and mood-balance. Going outside and absorbing a few rays from the sun is a wonderful way to clear our minds, strengthen our muscles, and in the timeless words of The Temptations, maybe even get “sunshine on a cloudy day”.
In the winter months it is harder to get the Vitamin D from the sun as it sits lower in the sky. The summer months are much easier for people to get our Vitamin D. How much time in the sun is needed? It really depends on your skin tone, as the darker your skin the more protected it is against skin cancers, but it also does take longer for it to convert Vitamin D into its active form. In general, it can take as little as 10 minutes in the sun to get a decent dose of Vitamin D.
So, let’s turn off our screens and get outside. Mother Nature, as powerful as she is, can’t help us through the window (The UVB rays needed to give you Vitamin D do not penetrate glass). Now that you’ve finished reading this, walk out the door and let the sun power up your strength, mood, and overall health. If it works for Superman, it can also work for you.