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Sunlight Improves Gut Health

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

benefits of sun exposure

Story at-a-glance -

  • Recent data show that the fat-soluble hormone known as vitamin D modulates your gut microbiome, creating a healthier environment. This is likely one of the reasons sunlight has a positive effect on those suffering from inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis
  • Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because it's manufactured by the skin after exposure to UVB from the sun; insufficiency is associated with heart disease, lupus and stroke and may exacerbate chronic gut inflammatory diseases
  • RNA sequencing of stool samples from before and after the study intervention showed UVB light altered and improved the gut microbiome in women whose vitamin D levels were low, but didn't have an impact on those whose levels were higher
  • The combination of overusing antibiotics and getting low sunlight exposure may be driving societal alterations in the gut microbiome, leading to inflammatory diseases. Your best first option is sensible sun exposure, followed by phototherapy devices and then vitamin D supplementation

Although vitamin D is technically not a vitamin, it is crucial to several important processes in your body. The chemical is a fat-soluble hormone your body makes when your skin is exposed to sunlight. It’s not commonly found in whole food, but is added to some processed foods. It’s also available in supplement form.

Since your skin manufactures vitamin D when it's exposed to certain wavelengths of light found in phototherapy devices and sunlight, it's known as the sunshine vitamin. In the past years, researchers revealed the important role vitamin D plays in modulating cell growth, optimizing your neuromuscular and immune functions and helping your gut absorb calcium.


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