Vacations are a truly magical thing. They give you a chance to step out of your routine, get away from your busy life, and enjoy something new. Even if you take a staycation in your home/city, it’s still wonderful to relax and decompress for a few days.
According to a new study, a vacation is good for your physical health as well as mental health. In fact, taking a holiday (especially in sunny places) can lead to better bone health, reduced blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and even a higher chance of surviving cancer.
How is all this possible? Two words: vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients in your life. It’s needed for healthy bones, as it enables your body to absorb and utilize calcium. It plays a role in heart health, preventing hypertension and heart disease. In some cases, it has even been associated with higher cancer survival rates.
Unlike the other vitamins, you can’t really get vitamin D from a dietary source. Though some foods have been enriched with vitamin D, it’s a less-than-efficient way to absorb the vitamin. The best way to get more vitamin D in your life is to spend time in the sun. Thirty minutes of daily sunlight is recommended by the US government in order to increase vitamin D levels.
A study carried out at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland looked at vitamin D levels among Scottish people. Scotland is famous for its cloudy weather and limited sunlight, meaning it’s difficult for the average person to spend enough time in the sun to absorb vitamin D. However, it was discovered that those who spent more holidays abroad (in sunny places, especially) had the highest levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream.
If you’re spending all day every day cooped up inside an office/your home, you may not get enough time in direct sunlight. This could lead to a vitamin D deficiency, which in turn could be contributing to poor bone health. Women, in particular, should be concerned about getting enough sunlight every day, as the rates of osteoporosis (associated with vitamin D deficiencies) are significantly higher among women.
Time to take yourself on a holiday. Get out of the big city and head somewhere with plenty of sunlight—a tropical paradise, beach town, or desert. More time in the sunlight can drastically improve your health by providing more of that vitamin D your bones and cardiovascular system need in order to be healthy.
1. Emily Weiss, Lina Zgaga, Stephanie Read, Sarah Wild, Malcolm G. Dunlop, Harry Campbell, Ruth McQuillan, James F. Wilson. “Farming, Foreign Holidays, and Vitamin D in Orkney.” PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (5): e0155633.