Sunshine and Vitamin D 

Many of us believe that sunshine is the major cause of skin cancers today, so much so that we slather on sun block and are almost afraid to go out and spend time in the sun.  Despite all the bad press linking sun exposure to skin cancer, there is almost no evidence at all to support this belief.

Dr. Robert Heaney MD is a researcher and considered by many to be one of the leading experts in the world on the subject of Vitamin D.  I recently saw a video clip of him touting the benefits of Vitamin. D and was pleased to hear about some research you may not be aware of, outside its connection to bone health. Here are some highlights.

Did you know that studies have already confirmed that appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent skin cancer?   In fact, the occurrence of melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer that accounts for more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths, has been found to decrease with greater sun exposure, and can actually be increased by sunscreens. Studies also site that melanoma patients with higher levels of sun exposure were less likely to die than other melanoma patients, and patients who already had melanoma and received a lot of sun exposure were prone to a less aggressive tumor type.

Melanoma is actually more common in indoor workers than in outdoor workers and is more common on regions of your body that are not exposed to the sun at all.  UVB radiation has been found to delay the appearance of melanoma if you are genetically predisposed or prone to skin cancer.

Incidences of melanoma are rising, but it is not because of sun exposure, it is because of a deficiency in Vitamin D, which the body produces upon exposure to sunlight.  More recent research into vitamin D and skin damage shows that although the sun does increase genetic damage in your skin, and can cause skin cancer, your body has a natural way to avoid this risk and Vitamin D is the key.  When you avoid the sun entirely, or slather on sun block whenever you go out, your skin is not making any vitamin D, and you’re left without this natural built-in cancer protection.

Vitamin D influences every part of your body, not just your bone health.  Did you know that optimizing your vitamin D levels can help you to prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers.  It is not just a minor contributor to slashing your cancer risk, it can cut it by as much as 60 percent.

In order to reap the benefits of Vitamin. D, your levels must be in the therapeutic range.  According to Dr. Heaney, your body requires 4,000 IU’s daily just to maintain its current vitamin D level.  He believes that safe therapeutic doses can range up to 10,000 IU’s a day.

I have been taking 4,000 IU’s a day for a while and recently had a blood test indicating that my Vitamin D level is great.  Of course I head out for the sun whenever I can.  I just feel better in the sun.  If you are feeling tired or sick, 30 minutes outside in the sun can work wonders.  It always makes me feel better.  I wonder if it is the Vitamin D my body is making or the fact that sunlight is a main ingredient for life on this planet. My gut tells me that we have not even scratched the surface regarding all the benefits of sunshine. 

Make sure you get your daily 30 minute dose of sunshine today and consider adding 4,000 IU’s of Vitamin D to your diet.  I just know you will feel better, decrease your risk of cancers, and increase your immune response to the myriad of respiratory infections we are exposed to.  Did you know that Vitamin D has also been called Nature’s Flu Shot?