Vitamin D and sunlight
Search more than 200 pages on this site...
There is an increasing amount of new research being released about vitamin D and sunlight as scientists discover more and more about the amazing qualities found in Vitamin D. Sunlight is believed to be the best source for us humans to obtain optimum levels of Vitamin D and what's more, its free! No prescription required. Maybe this explains a bit about why it's remained relatively unknown or under-researched for so long, as the big pharmaceuticals can't sell sunlight as Vitamin D to us.
They can sell sunscreen, and so for a few decades now we have all been told to avoid this wonderful resource of health and block out the sun's rays. However, it's not all as easy as just stopping the use of sunscreens and exposing yourself to the sun's rays to take advantage of this valuable nutrient. There is more to it than that and the following highlights some of the truths around Vitamin D and sunlight and health:
- Vitamin D is created through your skin by exposure to UVB rays from either natural sunshine or UVB lamps (not UVA which is contained in sunshine as well as most tanning beds lamps)
- Sunscreens interfere with your body's ability to generate vitamin D. The higher the SPF, the more the UVB rays will be blocked
- UVB rays do not penetrate clouds or glass as do UVA rays. Best exposure is therefore in the clean country air or at the seaside on a clear day!
- UVB rays are also weakest in the morning and evening and strongest when most direct. ie midday and unfiltered by cloud, smog, glass or such
- What is a tan?
- UVB rays weaken the further you are from the equator. ie. they are no longer as direct
- To generate the same amount of vitamin D, dark skin pigmentation requires 20 - 30 times more exposure to sunlight than fair-skin pigmentation. Hence the prostate epidemic with black American men mostly shows up with a vitamin D deficiency
- The health benefits obtained from vitamin D are numerous and include building strong bones and nervous system as well as helping to prevent such health complaints as osteoporosis, depression, prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity
- It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure. Your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs. Overdoing the sunlight exposure results in sunburn, which is your natural body's mechanism to tell you to stop and obviously not a good idea!
- There are some good sources of vitamin D to be found in food but the best source other than sunlight is through Vitamin D supplements
- If there is a need to rebuild the body's bones and nervous system due to an identified chronic vitamin D deficiency you cannot do this overnight. Months of vitamin D supplementation as well as regulated sunlight exposure may be required
So go and enjoy the vitamin D and sunlight!
So if sunlight exposure is really one of the most powerful healing therapies available to us in the world today, it must also be said that sensible exposure to natural sunlight can be one of the simplest, easiest and yet very important part of improving your health.
How beautiful that we can get to enjoy that feel-good sunshine 'pill' in the outdoors and not have to take drugs, undergo surgery or subject your body to immune suppressing chemical treatments!
And of course vitamin D and sunlight are free of charge.
Dr. Michael Holick