The first and perhaps most crucial thing I have learned is that it is called Vitamin D for a reason. Do not naively abbreviate it to both initials and expect to get away with it; if you tell people you are going outside to soak up some VD they will look at you with a mixture of disgust and alarm. This is an easy way to lose friends.
The second thing I have learned is that I wildly underestimated how much of an impact it can have on my health and happiness. The suggestion that fresh air and sunshine could improve my mood and increase my energy levels seemed improbable, and I was doubly dubious about taking this advice from a woman who claimed throughout my childhood that the ice-cream truck only played music when it had run out of ice-cream (thanks, Mum!). This all seemed too much like a clever ploy to get me out of the house for a few hours to be taken seriously.
As an adult (or someone resembling such) I have discovered that my scepticism was unfounded and, thanks to a quick search on Google, I now know much more about how it helps keep the body healthy and strong. For someone with pale skin like mine it is especially easy to get Vitamin D from sunlight; around 15 minutes in the sun is all I need on a daily basis. People with darker skin need more time in the sun to produce the same amount of Vitamin D and they are therefore at a greater risk of a deficiency. If you are deficient it will make it harder for your body to absorb calcium which could result in weak bones and teeth.
An estimated 40-75% of people may be deficient in Vitamin D and yet it takes so little time to get it into your body. If you have to stand outside checking emails on your phone for 20 minutes then do it! You’re getting your own work done and you’re still letting the sun do its job!
In the past I would spend whole days inside and the sun would rise and set, entirely unnoticed, on the wrong side of my window. (It’s worth knowing that, though you can burn through a window, you can’t actually benefit from the Vitamin D producing UVB rays, which can’t pass through glass.) Now I make an effort to spend time outside and it’s definitely improving my days and making a difference to my happiness. On my lunch break I used to move from the office to the canteen and back again but now I take my food out and walk for five minutes up the road to the park. I sit on a wall with a sandwich and a good book (or, more often, my phone) and watch the world and its dog-walkers go by.
Of course, we aren’t all lucky enough to work near a park but a few minutes in the middle of the day to soak up the best of the sun’s rays is all it takes. This can be done anywhere, even if that means a couple of laps around the staff car park. It may not be scenic but if it helps keep you healthy it’s got to be worth it! Even on an overcast day in the park I can still benefit from the sun’s almighty vitamin powers and I get a break and some fresh air so that I’m more lively and productive in the afternoons. Everybody wins!