Vitamin D: Are We Just Walking Trees Photosynthesizing Sun?
Lately Vitamin D has been a big topic of conversation when it comes to the health community. When we hear Vitamin D, we typically think of being outside in the sun. If you work with trees you might think about how trees use the sun in photosynthesis to create food.
So, because us climbers spend every day, 8+ hours a day outside, our bodies have to be FULL of Vitamin D, right? And since our skin is taking in sun and turning into Vitamin D that makes us like a tree going through photosynthesis right? No... not exactly. Let's find out why.
First off, what is Vitamin D?
"Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, and many other biological effects. The major natural source of the vitamin is synthesis of cholecalciferol in the lower layers of skin epidermis through a chemical reaction that is dependent on sun exposure." - Wikipedia
So, technically it isn't even a vitamin, but instead a hormone due to the fact that our body is able to produce it, unlike a vitamin where we must consume it because our body can't produce it or make enough of it on its own.
And secondly- in a weird way, yes, we are photosynthesizing sunshine into Vitamin D (or should we start saying Hormone D?!) but again, technically, photosynthesis is a plant thing. But we are synthesizing the sun to make a chemical in our body, so it's similar, and pretty amazing when you think about it! Being so similar though, doesn't this just make you feel more connected to trees? This just being another sign we are more connected to Nature than we realize. We are, in fact, Nature.
So let's move onto our next question- if we're outside in the sun all day, in all seasons, we have to be high in Vitamin D, how could our bodies be low in Vitamin D? Doctors often say most of the population is low on D, (40%. Of Americans are Vit. D deficient) but is it just a scam by Big Pharma to sell more vitamins?
First off, don't think because you sat by a window in the crew truck all day that you're getting your fill. You need to have the UVB Rays on your skin, and they will not penetrate through a window, you have to be outside under the rays.
Next you have to take into account your location. For those of us in the USA, if you look at a map and put your finger on LA, and then draw a line straight from the West Coast to the East Coast, if you are anywhere above that line, you are too far North to get the benefits of the sun as the Winter months roll in due to how low the sun is in the sky. So, yes, about 90% of the country. So even though you feel like you are getting your fill, unfortunately you're not.
Next is the darkness of your skin. People with lighter skin will soak up the rays faster, as those with darker skin will need more time in the sun.
To learn more about the evolution of how Vitamin D, came to be, how puppies helped us discover why humans were dying without it, and a deep dive into the subject check out this great article:
The Weird History of Vitamin
Now go get outside and enjoy the rays while the sun is high in the sky!