How often do you get outside and soak up some sunshine? Not only does it feel great but this simple act is more crucial to your health & wellbeing then most people realise.

When we expose our skin to the suns rays, a chemical reaction occurs in our body and we create Vitamin D. This vitamin is crucial to help maintain optimum health but according to international surveys and studies is deficient in the majority of people. Those and other studies have shown that maintaining high levels of this vitamin can have a whole host of beneficial health effects like lowering the risk and severity of colds and flu's, it will also lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease, bone breaks, cancer and depression, as well as greater mobility, a decreased risk of death in the elderly, reduced risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease and even greater pancreas function and increased survival rates of ICU (intensive care unit) patients . Although the claim of these health benefits are based purely on observational studies and warrant further research, things are looking very promising for the potential power of something so simple to increase the levels of with in our body.

So how much of this vitamin do we need and how do we go about getting it?

At present, the recommended amount is about 400 I.U. (international units) per day for the average person, but most experts agree that is probably too low. Some experts suggest 2000 I.U.'s per day with some even going as far to say that we need even more than that. So how do we know how much to take? Firstly, why supplement a vitamin that is so easily made by our own body or found in foods that have a whole host of other health benefits, so scrap that idea and get in naturally. Just 10-15 minutes of sunshine per day is enough to create all the vitamin D you need, or eating just a 100gram serving of wild fresh salmon can provide you with around 600 – 1'000 I.U. Simple, right?

But is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? The jury is still out on that one with some saying there is no real risk and its better to have high levels in your blood than to be deficient. While others say excessive amounts can lead to kidney stones, calcification in blood vessels and other problems. Until there are further studies on the matter its all guess work at the moment, however, the benefits in my eyes far out-weigh the risks and I think we should all take certain measures to increase our levels of the vitamin

If we make a conscious effort to get outside and enjoy more of what this world has to offer, not only will your increase blood levels of vitamin D but you can enjoy the knock on effect of being up and active adding even more health benefits.

So this summer, and all year round for that matter, get outside with family and friends, get active, be social and improve your health & wellbeing more than you could ever imagine.

It definitely beats the alternative of taking pills!

Rob Cook


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