another Nor’easter sweeps through Boston, clouding the sky
and spraying down an unrelenting barrage of horizontal mist, I can’t
help but daydream of warm sunshine.
The body requires sunshine to create
vitamins naturally. One such vitamin is Vitamin D. Vitamin D is
essential for your body to absorb Calcium and Phosphorus. The tricky
thing about Vitamin D, is that it rarely occurs naturally, so the
sun is key to healthy bones and a healthy body. Vitamin D is equivalent
in us to plants green chlorophyll. It is essential to our existence.
Without Vitamin D our body cannot synthesize Calcium and our bones
can become brittle or deformed and our teeth weak. The lack of Vitamin
D has been linked to osteoporosis, prostate cancer, breast cancer,
ovarian cancer, depression, schizophrenia, “rickets”,
diabetes and seasonal affective disorder. Those that suffer from
obesity, or that have dark skin pigmentation require even more sun
exposure for the body to create Vitamin D.
What about milk, you ask? Well, that
big glass of milk your mama made you choke down when you were little
is not naturally full of Vitamin D. Most dairy products today are
“fortified” with Vitamin D. As are many breakfast cereals
and juices. While eating fortified foods is a nice option in the
winter, it is not necessary in the spring, summer and fall. The
amount of sunlight needed to create Vitamin D, is 10-15 minutes
a day, two times a week on some part of the skin, including the
face, without sunscreen. Your body naturally stores the Vitamin
D for winter months in the liver and kidneys.
Vitamin D is also found naturally
in several animal based foods such as salmon, cod liver oil, mackerel,
beef liver, tuna and eggs.
That seasonal depression the residents
of Boston suffer from between November and February is real and
in part, it is due to the lack of sunlight. People who live above
52 degrees latitude should be aware in the winter months to eat
enough Vitamin D. This includes the United Kingdom, Poland, Netherlands,
Germany, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and many, many other countries.
Even people live 10 degrees south still suffer from the effects
of sunlight deficiency.
As health trends go, being afraid
of the sun is as trendy as it gets. But the facts are simple. It
is nearly impossible to get the Vitamin D that your body needs from
diet alone, according to Dr. Michael Holick, you would have to drink
ten tall glasses of milk a day just to get the minimum amount of
Vitamin D. So, exposure to sunshine is the only consistent way for
your body to create Vitamin D, which it does, free of charge. There
are a few catches though. The sunshine that you need is natural
sunlight, which cannot penetrate glass. This means that the sun
you get while you drive to work does not count. Also, according
to Holick, even sunscreen with SPF 8 can inhibit your body’s
ability to generate Vitamin D by 95%. So, while sunscreens help
prevent disease during long exposures to the sun, they can inadvertently
cause disease when used during your 10-15 minutes of essential exposure.
Skin disease is still a growing problem in our country. However,
we still must understand that our bodies depend on that sun, so
we must achieve balance. As the saying goes, everything in moderation.
Office of Dietary Supplements: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp
News Target: www.newstarget.com/003069.html