Get Sunshine – Birth Prep Challenge – Week 5

Get sunshine - it is imperative to your immune system function, sleep function, and overall happiness.  Not only is sunshine the easiest way for your body to be able to make vitamin D, you are storing up vitamin D for breastfeeding (for your baby) and for the winter/lower sun months.

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, and supplements just don't cut it.  SunshineVitamin.org tells us, "humans make 90% of their vitamin D from sunlight."  While "fortified" foods might have synthetic forms of vitamin D added (of D2, which is not the same as the D3 your body makes from sunlight exposure), the "fortification" means this vitamin isn't naturally occurring in this substance (like milk, for instance).

But, why is this fortification or supplementation of vitamin D sometimes necessary?  Humans, on average, in the US get less than 2 hours of time spent in the sunlight per day.  (Interestingly, prison inmates are mandated 2 hours of outdoor time).  In addition to the school systems and working environments reducing the amount of time spent outdoors, it is all too common for not only sunblock to be used, but mega doses that mean outdoor time is almost useless for sun exposure.  Getting sunshine is also important through the eyes and blocking this exposure prevents melatonin levels to be regulated for proper sleep patterns.

How much sunlight do I need?

It only takes about 15 minutes of sunlight exposure daily on the arms and legs for a light-skinned individual to make at least 3,000 IU of vitamin D.  This exposure amount changes depending on skin tone, climate, and season.  However, vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which means you will store this in your fat and more exposure one day means you don't need quite as much the next.  If you get sunshine enough during the warmer seasons of the year, you will store up amounts for the winter.  Likewise, if you would need supplementation (and chances are, if you need supplemented so does your baby) KellyMom.com shares that 6100 IU/day of Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) supplemented by mom is enough to provide her nursing baby with 400 IU of vitamin D without needing to directly supplement her breastfed baby.

But let's not put the baby before the birth.  Get Outside.  Get sunshine.  Even vitamin D3 supplements are not the same as making your own vitamin D through the sunlight your body craves.  This craving is usually a necessity or desire to be outside (See Birth Prep Challenge Week 3 for a recap).  The key is finding a reason to be outside and letting your skin get a little weather (even when its cold).   In fact, a little cold stimulation is good for the immune system and your body will also be able to better regulate to varying temperature changes.

Show me those gorgeous outside photos of you with #esalibirthprep on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter and tell me how you're incorporating 15 minutes to 1 hour of outdoor time (a minimum daily average) into your schedule.