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Sunshine, You Need it and Here's Why!

Aug 29, 2008
Over the last decade in particular we have been taught that the sun is something we need to avoid like the plague and that we need to slather the sunscreen all over to protect our skin.

Hold on, not so fast! There is scientific evidence that we need sunshine on our skin on a regular basis.

Here is some interesting scientific research on the effects of sunshine;

-According to Dr Michael F. Holick who is a professor of dermatology, physiology, medicine and biophysics at the Boston University of Medicine, and Dr Edward Giovannucci of Harvard University in boston, says in a nutshell that without sunshine on our skin, we do not produce vitamin D, a vitamin crucial to help ward off the inflammation of cardiovascular disease, type 1 diabetes, certain cancers, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and hypertension. (Note: we call it vitamin D but it is actually a hormone. Vitamin D is designed to increase the proper balance and circulation of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. ).

The big question is how much sunshine is needed for our bodies to produce vitamin D. The answer is surprising and has to do primarily with geography and the amount of melanin in a person's skin. (Melanin blocks UV rays) Our ancestors that have been born in warmer climates, closer to the equator, generally have darker skin and more melanin. People with darker skin have the ability to stay in the sun much longer than their fairer skinned neighbors to the north because of the higher amount of melanin, but that also means that it takes much longer for them to produce the needed amount of vitamin D and may take as much as a half to 1 full hour of sunshine to do the trick. Lighter skinned people that live farther away from the equator have a lot less melanin and need minimal exposure to the sun, sometimes only 10 to 15 minutes per day.

According to the above doctors, too much sun is not a good thing and the risk of skin cancer still remains a reality, but, on the other side of the coin, little to no sun can have detrimental effects as well.

Living in some northern climates, especially in the winter when there can be long periods of gray skies, can not only be depressing but can cause vitamin D deficiency in light and dark skinned people from lack of sun exposure. In cases like this, supplementation may be required to maintain optimal health. Better still, get enough sunshine over the spring, summer and fall months and your body may store enough vitamin D in the fatty tissues to get through the winter.

Research has shown that as much as 60% the elderly tend to be deficient in vitamin D. As we age, it takes a lot more for the skin to convert sunshine into vitamin D so supplementation can be highly beneficial. According to Dr Holick though, the elderly can still get their vitamin D requirements by exposing themselves to sunshine at least 3 times per week.

A Scandinavian study showed that men were 50% more likely to get prostate cancer if they were deficient in vitamin D and women were 30% more likely to get breast and ovarian cancer with a lack of this vitamin.

There are 3 ways of getting the vitamin D you need and that is through food sources such as , milk, cream, butter, eggs, liver and tuna to name a few, and through supplementation. Cod liver oil is good for that. Getting vitamin D by exposure to sunshine is Nature's way of getting this vitamin directly into our bloodstream.

It is recommended that you get the daily allowance of vitamin D through food, supplements or sun exposure to maintain optimal health but remember, moderation is the key here. So go ahead and enjoy the sun.
About the Author
Willie is a researcher and freelance writer whose own health problems prompted her to gain information on health and wellness and share that knowledge with others. She is co-owner of http://www.nutrition-tips.com .
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