The Sun is Shining… Time to Get Some Vitamin D!
Read this DAILY SPROUT for more info!
Well, hopefully this summer proves to be sunnier than the last, as we’ve all had a long winter! Yea, it was long in the sense that we got hit with a double whammy this year, but winter is always long in the sense that our skin doesn’t soak up very much sun for an extended period of time. The weather is cold, so we bundle up and hide every inch of our skin. This happens every year, but luckily our bodies can ride out the famine of sunshine, knowing that it will get a recharge come springtime. A necessary recharge… Actually, so necessary, that when we don’t get our recharge we start developing symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency, or “sun deficiency”. Symptoms, that lead to disease over time.
Vitamin D plays an important role in a seemingly wide array of different processes in the body including proper gut function, immune function, cardiovascular health, blood pressure regulation, bone health, mental health… and truth be told? There are just too many benefits to name here, many of which have yet to be discovered! Vitamin D has been linked to over 3,000 of your 24,000 genes. I’d say it’s pretty darn important!
The main functional storage site of Vitamin D is in your liver. The liver can actually store this vital hormone for up to a few months! So, be sure to recognize when the last time you got in the sun was. If it’s been 60 days, chances are you are running dangerously low and you’ll need to sunbathe or supplement. Knowing a little bit more about how and why to sunbathe will be useful in your pursuit of health… because after all, doesn’t the sun cause skin cancer?
Well, it’s interesting that a growing body of research is pointing to the opposite truth. The sun is actually therapeutic for melanoma aka skin cancer, provided that you are doing the right things. Also, it should go without saying that there would be no life on earth without the sun. The human race has done fine for thousands of year without the aid of chemically ridden sun blocks. You may be thinking, “but what about the hole in the ozone?” This may be true to an extent, but it’s definitely not as bad as we have been led to believe. Doctors are still prescribing smart sunbathing, and are still getting the expected benefits from it. So, it’s important to a few things about smart sunbathing.
First, know the difference between UVA and UVB. UVA rays are the more deeply penetrating rays that reach the lower layers of your skin and cause free radical damage. You’ll want to stay out of the early and late day sun to avoid these rays and you’ll want to avoid getting burned. These are the rays that have been causally linked to cancer. Easiest way to avoid them…. Don’t get burned. In contrast, UVB rays are your friends. These rays will increase your Vitamin D that is necessary for everything from proper digestion, to good mental health. The best time to receive these rays is from the midday sun.
Sunlight exposure on the skin causes a photosynthetic reaction to occur between UVB rays and the oil on the skin. There is a type of cholesterol that is universal to us humans and is located in the skin that is a precursor to Vitamin D. A series of chemical reactions occur in the liver and in the kidneys to produce the final and functional form of Vitamin D, called Calcitriol. This is a slow process. It is vital to know that the photosynthetic reaction that occurs on your skin, is still happening after you’ve gone out of the sun. With this being said, it is important that you do not shower with soap for a period of at least 6 hours afterward sunbathing. Rinsing with water will not affect your Vitamin D levels. However, washing with soap will wash off the photosynthetic complex on your skin.
- Are you exposing enough skin to sunlight? If this photosynthetic process were to ever occur it needs direct sunlight on the skin. If you think just going outside and getting sun exposure on your hands and face is good enough… think again. You need to expose as much bare skin as possible to the sun.
- Sunscreen. Commercial sunscreens contain nasty chemicals that can actually leech into your body through your skin. They have also been known to help facilitate the growth of the very cancer cells they are supposed to prevent! Also, there are natural sunscreens available for the longer periods of sun exposure.
- Avoid burning. Time of day and time of direct sunlight exposure are both important here. Sunburns are ultimately the cause of damaged basal layers of your skin leading to cancer. 20 minutes of sunbathing should suffice in the midday sun to get proper Vitamin D levels, and it shouldn’t be enough time to cause burning.
Some of the diseases that are linked to Vitamin D deficiency are: Crohn’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammatory bowel disease, Type-2 Diabetes, Lowered Immunity, Dental Cavities?!?, Cardiovascular disease, Osteopenia, Osteomalacia, up to 16 different types of cancer… The list goes on.
Bottom line? Go get some sun!
For more information on natural forms of sunscreen for the times when sunburns are inevitable, visit this page on Dr. Mercola’s website.