Get your Vitamin D boost from the noonday sun – Inquirer.net

Here comes summer, and with it, an overload of sunshine.

While the sun can do a lot of good, it can also cause much harm. The horror stories can be told over and over again.

But then, studies on its healing benefits should also be recognized.

The good

Vitamin D occurs naturally when sunlight touches your skin. Rachel Neale, Ph.D. of Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia, says that her very own research supports the protective effect of the sun against pancreatic cancer.

A study of 714 Australian participants over four years showed that exposure to the sun had a 24 percent lower pancreatic cancer risk than those with low sun exposure.

In fact, in the Archives of Internal Medicine published in 2008, it was reported that the risk of dying from heart disease and stroke doubled in those with the lowest vitamin D levels.

Canadian researchers report that sunshine can help prevent breast cancer. Women who had a minimum 21 hours exposure to the sun’s UV rays in their teens were less likely to develop cancer. And here’s the best news of all:  In a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, among women who spent much time outdoors in their 40s and 50s, the cancer risk dropped by 26 percent.

Female senior citizens should also be ecstatic over this one: Sunshine increased their protection, reducing the risk of cancer by 50 percent! (Reference: EmpowHER, report by Lynette Summerill)

While mixed reviews can confuse the public, there are also reports that vitamin D also protects against depression, colon cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Vitamin D is not produced by the body. It is not found in fruits and vegetables. Its only source is fish, most especially tuna. While milk and orange juice are fortified with vitamin D, it isn’t enough. 

The daily requirement is 200-600 units, but this data might be outdated.  Research by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Hector de Luca covered the benefits of vitamin D, recommending moderate sun exposure. 

However, to avert the risk of skin cancer, one should resort to vitamin D supplements at 2,000 units daily. (Reference: Pacific Standard)

The best solar exposure for vitamin D absorption is noon, according to researchers at the Department of Radiation Biology, Institute of Cancer Research in Oslo, Norway.

Recommended exposure is 10-15 minutes daily, any time of the day. Dr. Andrew Weil, on his web site, states that with more conclusive studies, he may be inclined to rethink his position against midday sun exposure.

If this proves to be right, then stand under the sun. You will know when it’s noon: Your shadow is shortest at this time.

The bad

The downside of insufficient vitamin D is that it can affect your general health in the following areas: the breast, colon, bone marrow, kidney, prostate, uterus, retina, stomach, intestine and lungs.

The basic danger of sun exposure is sunburn. When seen under a microscope, the sunburned skin shows damaged skin cells and blood vessels.  Repeated exposure results in wrinkled and leathery skin, an aged appearance.

The most serious of threats is also the most common of cancers—that of the skin. Doctors worldwide believe that most skin cancers can be best prevented by avoiding sun damage through sun exposure. Also, collagen breakdown due to UV radiation destroys vitamin C and collagen in the skin.

Prevention:

Wear sunscreen.  Apply 30 minutes before going outdoors. A minimum of SPF 30 is required.

Reapply sunscreen every two hours.

Avoid sunbathing for more than 20 minutes on the front and back. Fair-skinned individuals have a lower tolerance level for sunburn, compared to those with dark skin.

Take a high dosage of vitamin C (1,000 mg plus), as it raises your sun protection level naturally.

Heatstroke

According to the Mayo Clinic, heatstroke is preventable and predictable.

1) Do not underestimate the damage which severe sun exposure can cause.

2) Never go under the sun without protection such as a hat, umbrella, sunglasses and loose-fitting, comfortable and lightweight clothing.

3) Hydrate generously by drinking 12-15 glasses of water daily. This keeps your body temperature normal. Hypertensive individuals, be guided.  Have a pitcher of water beside you at all times.

4) Eat light, not heavy—have good portions of salads and fruits which are rich sources of water.

5) If you are on medication, consult your doctor for extra care during summer.

6) Beware of heat-related deaths—do not leave anyone (child or adult) inside a car parked under the sun. The temperature inside a parked car can rise 20 degrees higher within 10 minutes.

7) Avoid strenuous activity such as beach volleyball or parasailing at high noon. There are safer and cooler times of the day for sports.

8) Stay indoors from 11 a.m. to 

3 p.m. if possible. If you need to be outdoors, try to stay in a shady place—under a big coconut tree or an umbrella.

This week’s affirmation: “It may be hot outside, but I am cool inside.”

Love and light!

E-mail the columnist: coryquirino1@yahoo.com

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