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Sun Exposure

Exposure to Sunlight is Very Healthy

     Our planet orbits around the sun and all the living creatures on this earth depend on sunshine for their very existence, including us.  For years we have been told to avoid over exposure to sunlight because it is bad for our health.  We are now learning that our main source of Vitamin D is from exposure to sunlight and it is essential to our good health.

Vitamin D is produced when ultraviolet light hits your skin.  It prevents bone diseases such as osteoporosis and rickets.  It is connected to much lower rates of cancer, especially prostate, breast and colon cancer.  Canada has the highest incidence of multiple sclerosis in the world and conventional wisdom shows a relationship between this disease and low levels of Vitamin D.  Sunshine increases your endorphins (those natural hormones in your brain that give you pleasure). Many people are affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder) which is lack of light and sunshine during the dark days of our winters.

Although skin doctors cringe at the thought of exposing our skin to the sun, recently Dr.Edward Giovanucci of Harvard University Medical School published a paper indicating that Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients in preventing cancer. His opinion is that Vitamin D could prevent 30 deaths from breast, prostate and colorectal cancer for every one death caused by skin cancer.

The most natural way to acquire Vitamin D is by exposing your skin. Ten minutes of unprotected exposure to sunlight will give you 1000 units of Vitamin D. This is a lot more effective than taking a supplement.  Also new research indicates that the average person needs at least 2000 units a day to maintain a good state of health.  In the winter you may need supplements to get your daily dose, but extra Vitamin D during the summer is actually stored in your bones for future use.

The human race started off as nudists. As we lost more and more hair we eventually developed the need to cover our bodies.  Dark skinned people who live in northern climates need the most sun because it takes longer for them to absorb the Vitamin D from the ultraviolet rays.  Both Swedes and African Americans have the highest cancer risk and it may be their lack of Vitamin D. Rickets used to be considered a disease of poverty but is showing a huge increase in dark skinned immigrants in northern climates.

Once again we learn that everything in life involves moderation.  Of course too much sun exposure is bad for you, but too little can be even worse. Summer in this country is very short. Go out there, enjoy yourself. Get at least 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure in a bathing suit a few times a week and you will actually be healthier.

The largest exposed areas of your skin are your arms and legs. If you are going out in the sun, you can still protect your face with sunblock or with a hat to keep the sun off your face. It does not matter what part of your skin is exposed to the sun’s rays, the Vitamin D will be absorbed.

It has been a very long winter and not a very good spring. The ozone layer is very thin in May and gradually thickens as the summer goes on. This means you must be very careful this time of year with protection because you can burn your skin more easily. So take care, use your sun block and put on those shorts so you can expose those white winter legs to a dose of good sunshine.

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