Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Everybody loves the sunshine

As living beings, we rely heavily on the power of sunshine to develop, grow and stay healthy, but in recent years, the sun has become the enemy. We've bought into the myth that we must protect ourselves from it's dangerous rays, and in the process have made suncream companies rich. Many sunscreens use harmful ingredients (more on this in another post) which permeate the skin and are far more carcinogenic than sensible sun exposure could ever be. How is it possible that in Britain, skin cancer rates have almost doubled in the last 7 years? 

Our immune systems rely heavily on vitamin D3, 90% of which we would ideally get from sunlight. Small amounts are available in egg yolks, butter, cod liver oil and cold water fish. We also need D3 for calcium metabolism and bone building. Interestingly, people with auto-immune disorders, including cancer, are often massively deficient in this important vitamin. Studies have shown that people with the highest levels of vitamin D3 at the time of diagnosis have better survival rates, suggesting the importance of raising levels.

On average we can get enough vitamin D3 from 20 minutes unprotected exposure to the sun (avoiding the hottest part of the day between 11am and 2pm). However, people with darker skin need more sunlight, and those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere where the sun is weaker, may need longer exposure. It's important to avoid burning!

Taking a good quality supplement can entirely reverse deficiency, but current daily recommendations are set far too low; cancer patients need between 5000 and 8000 iu's per day. It's worth investing in a high quality product, and at all costs avoid using Vitamin D2 supplements, which are synthetic, less potent and poorly absorbed. During the winter months, and even on summer days when there is no sunshine, I use 4 drops of Liquid Sunshine, which delivers 10,000 iu's of D3. I would recommend bi-annual blood testing as it IS possible to overdose on supplementation. Interestingly toxicity does not occur when D3 is synthesised from exposure to sunlight.

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