A new study adds to growing evidence that not getting enough exposure to sunlight may increase our risk of some health conditions.
Researchers from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health, along with several Australian institutions, have found that children living in areas with lower levels of sunlight and low vitamin D status are at greater risk of developing food allergies and the skin condition eczema, compared to those in areas with higher amounts of UV light.
Using data from a study of Australian children, they examined how rates of food allergy, eczema and asthma varied throughout the country. They identified a link between latitude and allergies to peanut and egg and found that children in southern Australia are twice as likely to develop eczema as those in the north.
But it’s not just allergies and eczema that we need to worry about, many other aspects of good health are linked to sun exposure.
Sunlight and Health
Our bodies need sunlight to synthesize vitamin D in the skin. Those who live closest to the equator typically receive higher levels of sunshine than those who live closer to earth’s poles.
However, many lifestyle factors such as spending more time indoors and sunscreen use have led to widespread vitamin D deficiency in many Americans. Those who have dark skin and live further from the equator are also at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is best known for building strong bones and teeth but it is also essential for the health of many other tissues and organs. In fact, virtually every cell in your body has vitamin D receptors indicating that Vitamin D plays a role in its normal functioning.
In addition to bone health, vitamin D supports:
- Immune health
- The growth and development of normal cells
- Inflammatory balance
To prevent vitamin D deficiency, it’s important to get at least 10 to 15 minutes of direct sunlight every day on bare skin without using sunscreen.
Learn more about your risks for Vitamin D deficiency here.