by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
Are you getting too much sun?
I understand that we have been told for decades to stay out of the sun. I am sure you have heard these below and so many more.
- It’s damaging our skin.
- It’s bad for our eyes.
- It’s causing skin cancer.
- It’s basically killing us.
The reality is that exposure to the sun is an essential nutrient to our body with the obvious benefit of vitamin D conversion, there are so many other benefits to enjoy. Based on an article written a few years ago evidence presented in the Dermato-Endocrinology confirms that exposure to the sun in appropriate and measured time frames has a number of health benefits unrelated to vitamin D production, such as:
- Improve your mood and energy through the release of endorphins
- Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Protecting against and suppressing symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Treating skin diseases, such as psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, and scleroderma. UV radiation also enhances skin barrier functions
- Inducing nitric oxide (NO), which helps protect your skin against UV damage and offers cardiovascular protection, promotes wound healing through its antimicrobial effect, and has some anti-cancer activity
- Melatonin regulation through the “third eye” of the pineal gland photo receptors
- Relieving fibromyalgia pain
- Standard treatment for tuberculosis 100 years ago, long before the advent of antibiotics
- Treating neonatal jaundice
- Can be used to sterilize your armpits and eliminate the cause of most body odor
- Synchronizing important biorhythms through sunlight entering your eye and striking your retina
- Regulating body temperature
- Protecting against melanoma and decreasing mortality from it
- May be effective in treating T Cell lymphoma
Let’s not forget the many benefits of vitamin D also. The information below is from and article from Web MD. Feel free to view this article in its entirety.
As the research into vitamin D is accumulating, it’s hard to know where the accolades should start. “Activated vitamin D is one of the most potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth,” says Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, who heads the Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine. “It also stimulates your pancreas to make insulin. It regulates your immune system.”
Just consider these studies:
At Boston University, after people with high blood pressure were exposed to UVA and UVB rays for three months, their vitamin D levels increased by more than 100% — and more impressively, their high blood pressure normalized. “We’ve followed them now for nine months, and their hypertension continues to be in remission,” says Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University. One theory about how vitamin D reduces blood pressure: It decreases the production of a hormone called renin, which is believed to play a role in hypertension.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 2003, of more than 3,000 veterans (ages 50 to 75) at 13 Veterans Affairs medical centers, those who consumed more than 645 IU of vitamin D a day along with more than 4 grams per day of cereal fiber had a 40% reduction in their risk of developing precancerous colon polyps.
In a report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in February 2004, researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland showed that elderly women who took a vitamin D supplement plus calcium for three months reduced their risk of falling by 49% compared with consuming calcium alone. Those women who had fallen repeatedly in the past seemed to gain the most benefit from vitamin D.
A study in the Jan. 13, 2004 issue of Neurology indicated that women who get doses of vitamin D that are typically found in daily multivitamin supplements — of at least 400 international units — are 40% less likely to develop multiple sclerosis compared with those not taking over-the-counter supplements.
Here is another amazing article based on years of research to recognize further benefits of healthy sun exposure.
Now the you see the benefits of the vitamin D conversion from sun exposure and the host of other benefits tied into healthy sun exposure, do you think you are getting enough sun?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, this is not as easy as just providing a time frame. Here are some variables to consider:
- Your personal skin tone. If you have very fair skin you may need only about 10 minutes of sun exposure during the day. If you skin is much darker, you may need and hour or more. The key is to stay out in the sun as long as possible while not occurring skin damage, also know as sun burn.
- It is also important to pay attention to the time of the day. Interestingly enough, the best time of the day to enjoy the highest health benefits of the sun is the time we have been told to stay out of the sun, which is typically between 11:30AM and 1:30PM. This is a key time for converting vitamin D and also enjoy the hormonal benefits of the incidental sun exposure through our eyes.
- How much of our body we expose is also a key. To get your most significant benefits, you would expose as much of your body as possible. If you get out in the sun on your lunch hour, roll up your sleeves and pant legs, hike up your dress or have a change of cloths to get outside if applicable.
- Where you live. If you live in an area where winter does not allow you to get outside, I would seriously consider vitamin D supplementation or the use of cod liver oil. I prefer cod liver oil because it provides the benefits of your Omega 3 fatty acids also.
- Consider your current levels of vitamin D3. When you are looking at conventional reference ranges for vitamin D with your blood testing, most will say your fine if your vitamin D levels are above 30. When I am working with clients I recommend that the average person should have a vitamin D level between 50 and 70, but if you are trying to use vitamin D therapeutically due to health challenges, this level should be between 70 and 100.
I most often see vitamin D levels that are too low, so be sure to check your vitamin D levels with some regularity.
Many people are worried about too much vitamin D and actually reaching “toxic” levels of vitamin D. With this said, many people abstain from using vitamin D supplementation but this is typically not an issue for most. Instead of reinventing the wheel on vitamin D toxicity, I will share an extremely comprehensive and researched article by Dr. Jonny Bowden on this subject. Enjoy this article here.
For those that find themselves suffering with a sensitivity on any level to sun exposure, check with a qualified natural health practitioner because this is typically a deeper immune system condition that may have to be addressed. For most of us though, we need to enjoy our essential and healthy sun exposure to truly live an optimally happy and health life. After all, you all deserve this?
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