The im­por­tance of sun and sleep

New Zealand’s favourite well­be­ing ex­pert, Dr Libby, an­swers read­ers’ ques­tions about liv­ing a health­ier life.

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH -

I’ve been told to take a vi­ta­min D sup­ple­ment. What does vi­ta­min D do and why can’t I get it through my diet? Thanks, Jus­tine

Hi Jus­tine. Over the win­ter months it is par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult to ob­tain ad­e­quate vi­ta­min D as we of­ten find our­selves wrapped up warm with lit­tle ex­po­sure to the sun. As the sun’s ac­tion on the choles­terol in our skin is our ma­jor source of vi­ta­min D, it’s im­por­tant to spend a lit­tle time each day ex­posed to the sun and to up our in­take from food sources. Vi­ta­min D is an im­por­tant nu­tri­ent for bone health, im­mu­nity, can­cer preven­tion and mood regulation. It sup­ports the up­take of cal­cium and phos­phate which are bone strength­en­ing min­er­als, es­pe­cially in grow­ing chil­dren and the el­derly.

Teens ac­crue about 50 per cent of their adult bone mass be­tween the ages of 12 and 18, so ad­e­quate vi­ta­min D is of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance dur­ing th­ese years too.

While we nor­mally syn­the­sise the ma­jor­ity of our vi­ta­min D from the sun through our skin, we can get some from oily fish, or­ganic but­ter, and eggs. It is an im­por­tant nu­tri­ent to have tested so you know when it is ap­pro­pri­ate to take a sup­ple­ment. I am­go­ing through a pe­riod where I’mnot sleep­ing well and I knowit’s in­flu­enc­ing my health. What are your tips to help me get more rest? Thanks, Sharon.

Hi Sharon. There are a few things I link to amaz­ing health. Op­ti­mal nutri­tion of course, fresh air, move­ment, love, and great sleep. In fact, im­prov­ing the qual­ity of your sleep will sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove all aspects of your health.

Sleep is of­ten the only time our bod­ies are able to ac­cess a part of our ner­vous sys­tem re­spon­si­ble for rest and re­pair.

Sleep is crit­i­cal for skin re­gen­er­a­tion, im­mu­nity, hair growth, nail growth and all other non-vi­tal pro­cesses the body will not pri­ori­tise dur­ing the day, par­tic­u­larly when un­der con­stant stress.

Of­ten for­got­ten but cru­cial to deep sleep is the min­imi­sa­tion of caf­feine. It can take the body up to eight hours to clear caf­feine – so think about how many cof­fees, teas, co­las and/or en­ergy drinks you con­sume per day.

Breath is one of the most es­sen­tial fac­tors in reg­u­lat­ing the

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