I live in the Ozarks, and like much of the rest of the country, the area has been particularly hard hit by consecutive winter storms leaving large swaths of ice, snow, and extremely cold temperatures with wind chills below zero.
While there has been an abundance of icy precip, one thing that’s been lacking around here is sunshine — and we all know how annoying THAT gets after awhile. My hair stylist, who is 8 months pregnant is bemoaning the fact that the lack of sun has made her feel even more sluggish and unmotivated. She’s not alone — many people suffer from SAD after only a few days without sun exposure.
Indeed, the sun has gotten a bit of a bad rap in recent years because of an increase in skin cancer due to changes in the ozone layer.
But, it’s not a good idea to throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to sunshine; 90% of the most optimum form of vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun – – there is no supplement that can trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Only direct sunlight offers this protection. Specifically, only UVB rays activate vitamin D synthesis; UVA rays do not.
And what’s so great about vitamin D? Quite a few things, it turns out — here are just a few of the health benefits associated with the “sunshine vitamin:”
- A study conducted by the Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center 20 years ago revealed that vitamin D may help reduce cancer risk from a diet high in fat
- A 2006 study reported that vitamin D may reduce breast cancer risk
- Norwegian researchers discovered that women diagnosed with breast cancer have better outcomes if they’re cancer is discovered in either the summer or fall, when sunshine is the most plenteous in that region of Europe.
But how much sunshine is enough? Here is a suggestion from the Vitamin D Council:
“I you use suntan parlors once a week or if you live in Florida and sunbath once a week, year-round, do nothing. However, if you have little UVB exposure [suggestions are] as follows: healthy children under the age of 1 year should take 1,000 IU per day. Over the age of 1, 1,000 IU per every 25 pounds of body weight per day. Well adults and adolescents should take 5,000 IUs per day.”
To keep abreast of the most current information re vitamin D visit the Vitamin D Council website.
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