Sunshine! Should we avoid it or embrace it? In this article, we address the most commonly asked questions and misconceptions about sun exposure, and the vitamin D connection.
Sunshine – Who Needs It?
Vitamin D is produced in the body almost exclusively by exposure to the sun and is necessary for good health. "Humans make thousands of units of vitamin D within minutes of whole body exposure to sunlight. From what we know of nature, it is unlikely such a system evolved by chance," John Cannell MD, Executive Director, vitamin D council.
But I don’t need/want a tan!
Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t need to go out in the sun, I’m dark enough?” Whether you’ve achieved a gorgeous tan, are naturally bronze, or fair-skinned, spending time outside, soaking up sun rays is essential to your health, regardless of skin type or color.
This may surprise you, but dark-skinned individuals actually require more sun exposure for adequate vitamin D synthesis to occur in the body than those with fair skin. Dark-skinned individuals have more protective, ultra-violet blocking, melanin than lighter skinned individuals. To produce adequate vitamin D levels in the body, dark-skinned individuals require longer sun exposure (up to six times as much sun), than those with light-skin.
But I’ll get skin cancer!
Another misconception about the sun that we’ve all heard is that it causes skin cancer, especially melanoma. Yet, vitamin D reduces your chances of developing all forms of skin cancer, including malignant melanoma. Vitamin D is reported in women to inhibit or stop cell growth in non-melanoma, skin cancers from developing into melanoma.
I get sun on my face, hands and forearms. Isn’t that enough?
According to the vitamin D council, a minimum of 40% of the body should be exposed for optimal vitamin D production. The hands and face produce little or no vitamin D, the legs and arms some, but the torso produces the most vitamin D when exposure to natural sunlight. To learn more about proper sun exposure for vitamin D production, visit www.vitamindcouncil.org.
7 Interesting Facts You Should Know About vitamin D
You probably know that vitamin D plays a vital role in the development of teeth and bones. It helps the body absorb calcium and strengthens bones and muscles. Yet, there are so many other health benefits from natural sunlight that you might not be aware of.
1. It protects against Type-2 diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and tuberculosis.
2. It boosts your natural immunity, and helps thwart colds and flu.
3. Vitamin D is important in supporting a healthy, cardiovascular system, as it helps regulate the heartbeat, and reduces the chances of heart problems or stroke.
4. It is a neurohormone, enhancing brain function. Adequate levels of vitamin D lower your chance of infection and chronic brain inflammation.
5. People suffering with low levels of vitamin D are more prone to experience depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, suicidal or criminal behavior, which are all linked to chronic brain inflammation.
6. Sufficient vitamin D boosts testosterone levels and possibly sex drives in men. As vitamin D levels increase in the summer, in response to the body’s exposure to sunlight, so did testosterone levels in men according to study results.
7. Baby’s bone health is boosted by mom’s sun exposure. According to UK researchers, women receiving sun during the last trimester of pregnancy have children with larger, stronger bones.
Enjoy the summer, spend some time outside and soak up a little sunshine every day, if possible!
About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.
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