Here Comes Summer! Is the Sun Friend or Foe?

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10 Question Exam (sent via email)

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Much research has been reported on the critical need your body has for Vitamin D. It is well known that the most effective forms of the 5 Forms of Vitamin D are D-3 and D-2. The body forms D-3 after sunlight shines on your skin. On a clear, sunny day, 10 minutes in the midday sun, in shorts and tank top, with no sunscreen (SPF 8 stops 95% of D production) and assuming you are fair skinned will provide the skin sufficient UVB radiation to produce about 10,000 I.U. of Vitamin D. Darker skinned and elder produce less. The Sun’s radiation has both UVA and UVB and UVA is the cancer causing rays while UVB is the Vitamin D producing rays. Clouds stop UVB rays, but the UVA rays get through and that is why you can get a sun burn on cloudy days. It is also the same reason why snowboarders and skiers get burned in the winter on the slopes! In the winter time, if you live north of Atlanta, the Sun is too low on the horizon for UVB rays to penetrate the atmosphere, so no Vitamin D production can take place. However, UVA can still burn you and that burning represents substantial skin damage. At sea level, the sun must be at or above 45 degrees to the horizon and the UV index must be above 3 to get Vitamin D production, but the UVA rays can still burn you and cause you substantial damage. So here is the trade-off: you can stay out of the Sun, cover-up and slather on the sun screen to prevent burning, skin damage, and potential skin cancer OR… you can take a moderate approach of spending 10-15 minutes in the Sun each day to get the Vitamin D you need! Why take the risk? Vitamin D protects against Heart Disease, Cancers, Osteoporosis, Osteomalacia, and Rickets. Vitamin D also protects against depression, insomnia, increases the strength of your immune system and has other health benefits. Far more lives are lost to diseases caused by a lack of sunlight, than to much! But, I am asking you to use good judgement! If you are extremely fair, and know you will burn in 15 minutes on the beaches of Miami… only go out for 5 minutes! If you are so fair you burn easily, then you can safely assume your fair skin is far more efficient at Vitamin D production and your skin will quickly produce the D it needs. The general rule of thumb is to spend less than half the time it normally takes for you to burn. On average, safe “Sun times” are: fair skinned (in a bathing suit): 5-15 minutes; tan: 15-20 minutes; dark skin: 25-150 minutes (depending on how dark: the darker the skin, the slower Vitamin D is produced and the less susceptible to damage). Government recommendations may be too low, WAY TOO LOW! Current recommendations are: 200 I.U./day to the age of 50; 400 I.U./day to the age of 70 and 600 I.U./day over 70. Many experts are saying to take at least 2,000 I.U./day of D-2 and D-3 and get daily sun exposure in the summer. With some research reporting deficiencies in 21-58% of the population, action must be taken to prevent the chronic disorders listed above. The people with lowest levels of D have more than DOUBLE the risk of dying from Heart Disease and nearly ALL other causes of death. Get some Sun, but do it with good judgement!

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