Use this as your excuse to go soak in some rays, and Vitamin D
Do you ever notice how many musicians quite literally sing the sun’s praises? And how in every single one the singer is saying how the sun makes them feel good? Well, turns out there are some good reasons for that.
Sunshine isn’t just what gives some people a nice tan and helps flowers grow, it can also have profound effects on our physical health—especially when it comes to managing our anemia.
And no, setting up your beach chair isn’t going to give you extra iron…well, it kind of does.
Allow us to explain
Vitamin D and Anemia
We need to burst your bubble a little bit: You don’t actually get Vitamin D from the sun. Not directly anyway.
As it turns out, the sun’s rays actually allow our bodies to produce Vitamin D, which is necessary for nutrient absorption—including iron.
In other words, Vitamin D allows iron, calcium, and other minerals to do their job, whether that’s carrying oxygen to our body’s muscles or strengthening our bones. It essentially acts like a battery for those minerals.
So even if your diet is rich in iron, a lack of Vitamin D could cause anemia symptoms, including:
- Physical weakness
- Pallor (Pale or yellowish skin)
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest pains
- Cold hands and feet
In fact, scientists found that people who lived in Mediterranean cities (where iron-rich diets are common) but lacked enough sun exposure had significantly lower hemoglobin levels than those who got 15-30 minutes of sun exposure per day.
It’s advised that you go out in the sun as close to midday as possible, as that’s when the sun is at its highest point.
“Can’t I just use a tanning bed?” Well, yes and your body will be able to create some Vitamin D from that but Yale scientists believe that possesses more risks than benefits.
If you’re worried you’re not getting enough sun exposure, you can take a Vitamin D supplement or eat foods rich in the vitamin.
Here are some good sources of Vitamin D, according to the Harvard School of Public Health:
- Tuna fish
- Orange juice fortified with vitamin D
- Dairy and plant-based milks fortified with vitamin D
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
- Fortified cereals
- Cod liver oil
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