I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I’m glad to be done with cold and dreary weather. Bring on the sunshine!
But my excitement is tempered a bit because, like many people with MS, I find the heat exhausting; it saps my energy and makes it even harder to get through the long summer days.
So whenever I feel worried about the heat of summer, I focus on the fact that the sun helps provide vitamin D, which our bodies create when bare skin is exposed to sunlight.
(Fun fact: the compound we call vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin. It’s a master hormone, which regulates other hormones in the body.)
Why is vitamin D so important? Well, you’ve probably seen articles discussing the benefits of vitamin D, and the issues that arise when you don’t have enough.
Vitamin D can protect against depression and osteoporosis. We need vitamin D to absorb calcium, which is critical for bone health. And there is also evidence that a reduced level of vitamin D may influence disease activity for those with multiple sclerosis. In fact, there’s some evidence that the farther away from the equator a person lives (and the less sun exposure they have) the higher their risk of developing MS.
So if vitamin D is so important, how can you make sure you get enough?
- While it’s important to protect your skin with sunscreen to reduce your risk of skin cancer, spending 10 minutes each day outside may help. Take a walk in short sleeves, or enjoy lunch on a park bench.
- You can also take supplements, which your physician or neurologist can prescribe for you after checking your vitamin D levels to see if they’re low.
- Foods such as fatty fish (tuna, salmon and mackerel), egg yolks, and cheese can also provide a good amount of vitamin D.
So enjoy the sunshine; summer is not only a beautiful time of year, it may be good for your health!
Please share your own sunny ideas. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
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Elissa is a holistic Health Coach and founder of Health/E, LLC. She works with individuals to help them find energy, strength and balance through nutrition, exercise and self-care. Elissa gives workshops throughout the NY area, and runs support groups for the National MS Society, in addition to working one-on-one with clients.