Have you ever been on holiday to a Mediterranean country and marvelled at the natural beauty of olive-skinned Mediterranean women? They seem to have a certain lustrous glow about them- beaming radiance and vitality.
It's a look that we, as British women, hanker after. After a relaxing, sun-filled holiday we may have achieved only a fraction of their radiance, but alas, we soon revert to our pale, tired and lifeless-looking skin once home and living under what seems like a constant mass of clouds.
It's nice to have a post holiday glow but did you know that Vitamin D - also known as the sunshine vitamin- is essential for bone, brain, and heart health! Vitamin D deficiency is when the level of Vitamin D in your body is too low and this can cause a host of other negative side effects.
So, are we, as British Women, to be forever cursed because of the lack of sunlight in this country? Not necessarily! Vitamin D develops naturally in your body in response to sun exposure. Here are a few handy tips to help promote happy, healthy bodies:
1. Your skin needs direct UV light from sunshine in order to make Vitamin D. Aim to go outside for 10-30 minutes at least three times a week, being careful around MIDDAY as this is the time of day when UVB rays are most intense, so you need less time in the sun to make sufficient Vitamin D. Pale colour skin makes Vitamin D more quickly than darker coloured skin, so adjust timings according to your skin tone & the season.
2. Expose at least 1/3 of your skin to allow your body to make more Vitamin D. Think short sleeved t-shirt and shorts. Or during winter, roll up those sleeves to expose more of your skin to the sun.
3. During the winter months, eat more foods that naturally contain Vitamin D, such as milk, egg yolks, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) and leafy greens.
4. Take a supplement paired with high-fat foods for optimum absorption – speak to a doctor for your specific needs.
5. Take part in regular exercise as this can help increase absorption of Vitamin D. A 2011 study from Harvard University found that those who exercise both vigorously and regularly had higher levels of Vitamin D.
6. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation make sure you always apply sunscreen for protected sun exposure, as you would normally throughout the day, to protect your skin against the dangers of the sun, premature ageing and skin cancer.
A handy reminder – even for us Brits – is the Australian Cancer Council slogan to ‘Slip-Slop-Slap’ for reducing unhealthy sun exposure by slipping on a shirt, slopping on sunscreen, and slapping on a sun hat.
7. And finally, lower stress levels as acute stress can deplete Vitamin D stores. This is often linked to usually spending less time outdoors if we are sick or extremely stressed. For home relaxation inspiration try our Relax and De-stress bundle.
We may never quite achieve that longed for Mediterranean glow, but at least we can improve our bone, brain and heart health by ensuring we get a safe dose of the sun.
And if we feel good on the inside, this will radiate through on the outside!