By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
Summer’s finally here! Whether it’s beaches, barbecues or just spending a bit more time outdoors, there’s something for everyone to look forward to. But summer is not only good for the soul – it’s also great for your health.
As the summer draws in, so does the sunshine. In the months of April, May and June the hours of sunshine begin to increase, peaking in July, and with the sunlight comes a variety of incredible health benefits.
The main advantages come from Vitamin D, which is synthesised by the body when our skin is exposed to sunlight. As the weather improves and we spend more time outside, our Vitamin D levels rise due to this increased exposure.
Vitamin D is crucial for the development and maintenance of your bones and teeth. It helps the absorption of calcium from the intestines, ensures correct renewal of bone tissue, and maintains phosphorus levels in the blood – all of which contribute to strong, healthy bones. This can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and aid the treatment of the condition.
Vitamin D is also known to have a positive effect on the immune system, the brain and the nervous system. Building up a healthy supply of Vitamin D during the summer can therefore stand you in good stead come the winter months, helping you ward off viruses like cold and flu.
It can play a role in more serious health problems too. Research shows that Vitamin D can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and severe asthma, and is also thought to help those managing diabetes to regulate their insulin levels.
However, it’s not just Vitamin D levels that improve during the summer. Greater exposure to sunlight can increase the release of a hormone called serotonin, which helps to maintain a balanced mood, a healthy appetite and a regular sleep cycle. When you’re out and about in the sunshine, the resulting increase in serotonin can help you feel calm, focussed and ready to tackle the day.
Ever noticed you or someone close to you experiences more sadness or lethargy during the winter months? This can be because of the reduced sunlight and the lowers levels of serotonin, a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you’re worried about your mental health or that of a loved-one, it’s always a good idea to check in with your GP – at any time of year.
And let’s not forget, sunlight has its risks too, especially in the hot climate we enjoy here in Bermuda. To ensure that you’re keeping yourself safe from sun damage, it’s important to apply sun protection products like Sol Rx, Blue Lizard, Coppertone, Aveeno and others throughout the day. It’s also essential that you stay hydrated when spending a lot of time in the heat, so be sure to drink plenty of water. The best advice is to plan ahead – when heading out for a day in the sun, make sure you’re prepared. Of course, not everyone loves the sun. If you’re struggling to get enough Vitamin D then taking a supplement such as Nature’s Bounty or Nature Made Vitamin D or a good multivitamin tablet (or gummy) that contains at least 800 IU (50mcg) of vitamin D can make all the difference. Meanwhile, visit your pharmacist or GP if you have any concerns about your health. We’re here to help – come rain or shine.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.