“Enjoy the sunshine!” This is one of our favourite lessons and secrets to everlasting health and longevity from Blue Zones populations around the globe. These populations have been researched and renowned for living longer and healthier than anywhere else on earth.

The sun beams down, it lights up the world, warms up our hearts and makes us feel so good. All thanks to one very special ingredient: Vitamin D. Vitamin D comes armed with a sunshiny team of health benefits essential for life and radiant health.

The human body has a remarkable ability to produce its own Vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight when almost every other vitamin must be obtained from dietary sources. After spending time outdoors in the lightest hours, your body starts turning sunshine into health-promoting chemicals that are used to support the inner workings of your body. Even more incredible, Vitamin D is eventually converted to a hormone, when it is considered active and ready to work its magic.

Vitamin D works to regulate the body’s absorption of calcium and phosphorus which highlights its importance for strong, healthy bones throughout life stages. This is perhaps what Vitamin D is best known for, however, Vitamin D impacts our quality life in ways that extend to immune and neuromuscular function, disease prevention and the regulation of mood, sleep and emotional patterns.

Other ways in which this busy little vitamin impacts our health include:

  • Manages calcium in the blood, bones and gut
  • Strengthens the immune system and helps to fight infection
  • Assists with cell communication within the body
  • Aids muscles function
  • Supports healthy heart health and circulation
  • Supports brain development
  • makes us feel good!

Vitamin D has been hailed the “happiness vitamin” due to its ability to uplift our mood by producing “happy” chemicals which naturally makes us feel good. Low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with symptoms of depression in both men and women. Dr Gregory Plotnikoff from the Alline Center for Health Care Innovation reports that there is emerging research which supports that sunshine exposure promotes the manufacturing of endorphins which offers a feeling similar to a runner’s high.

While it is possible to obtain some Vitamin D from certain food sources, our bodies have been designed to receive more than 90% of our daily requirements from sunlight to skin exposure. It is important to note the body needs very little time in the sun to receive adequate amounts of Vitamin D levels. New Zealanders are great advocates for sun safety and skin protection but research suggests that exposing our arms and legs to sunshine for just 5 – 15 minutes, 2 -3 times per week may be all we need.

The next time you feel the sun, warm and bright against your skin, stop for a second and appreciate all the magic of it all as the sunshine works to bring that warmth and joy to your heart, your health and to every day of your life.

Niki Loe 
Personal Trainer – Pilates Instructor – Nutrition Coach