Tambako the Jaguar
Sunlight can re-vitalise and invigorate at the correct doses but it can also do harm in larger doses so we must strike the correct balance. Unfortunately recent press and government guidelines have gone to the opposite extreme and made us think that it is best to avoid the sun altogether and when we do go into the sun we must use copious amounts of sunscreen.
Recently a friend of my sisters was complaining of fatigue and general malaise. She went in for some blood tests to find out she was severely Vitamin D deficient, probably in turn leading to a calcium deficiency. To me this is not a result of a lack of sun in general but rather a life long deprivation of sunshine. Most kids these days have been brought up avoiding sun their whole life, basically depriving them of the necessities that sunlight provides by using sun screen or more likely telling them to avoid the sun all together.
We constantly hear about skin cancer and the over use of tanning beds when in fact it is the lack of sun that is causing more harm. It is well known that there is a lack of Vitamin D in pretty much all the western worlds countries and a lack of Vitamin D causes many many diseases from Prostate Cancer, Fatigue, Osteoporosis and Depression. The doctors remedy to this is to push vitamin D supplementation which is usually in its inefficient D2 form which is not processable by the human body so no wonder the problems continue. There has been evidence to show that Vitamin D3 can work well in humans but we need to take huge amounts to correct a deficiency and these doses are unlikely to be issued by a doctor. Add to this that recent research has shown that we need full spectrum sunlight to obtain healthy vitamin D levels and supplements in whatever form may help but they certainly do not replace the SUN.
A lack of sunlight does not only cause a Vitamin D deficiency but also causes a host of other problems:
- De-regulation of our natural body clocks
- Lack of sunlight is associated with “high myopia” meaning ruined vision
- Lower Dopamine levels
- Interference with Leptin levels (hunger control)
Add these to the host of problems that come from a Vitamin D deficiency and it is pretty obvious we need not only to get more sun but spend more time outdoors rather than closed up in artificial lighting all day.
“We miss out on essential morning light needed to stimulate the body’s 24-hour biological system, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle” – Lighting Research Centre
This all points to not only sunbathing more often but getting out and about during the day and making the most of time to get outdoors like lunch breaks and any walks you can fit into your day.
How to get sun?
I would say it comes down to making the most of your opportunities throughout the year. When you take into account that simply sunbathing with a decent amount of skin exposure for 15-20 minutes without sunscreen can generate huge amounts of Vitamin D then we realise how easy it is. Add to this that Vitamin D is fat soluble meaning we can store it for a few weeks/months, the other benefit is that it is Impossible to overdose on natural sunlight provided Vitamin D (the same cannot be said for supplements).
Spending more time outdoors and getting some morning sunlight and you should be doing pretty well. Add to this encouraging children to get outside and play and allowing them to spend time in the sun so that healthy levels of Vitamin D develop from a young age. Sure Sunlight can be overdone but our body is pretty good at telling us when it has had enough……