Readers may be aware of recent media reports on the rising incidence of Ricketts. This bone disease is caused by lack of vitamin D (which we source from sunlight). Our northern hemisphere climate combined with indoor lifestyle along with other factors has led to Ricketts rearing it’s head for the first time since the WWII.
Sun exposure to the skin is the human race’s natural, intended, most effective and most neglected source of vitamin D. Research is now indicating that vitamin D may also have implications relating to other health conditions including Multiple Sclerosis and cancers.
According to data from the Vitamin D Society in Canada;
“Vitamin D sufficiency, along with diet and exercise, has emerged as one of the most important preventive factors in human health. Hundreds of studies now link vitamin D deficiency with significantly higher rates of many forms of cancer‚ as well as heart disease‚ osteoporosis‚ multiple sclerosis and many other conditions and diseases.”
Because sunshine is a free commodity with no publicist or lobbyist, the Sunshine Vitamin Alliance is established as a coalition of right-minded physicians, individuals and organizations who advocate natural vitamin D production through regular, non-burning sun exposure.
Humans make 90 percent of vitamin D naturally from ultraviolet B exposure to the skin, which naturally initiates the conversion of cholesterol in the skin to vitamin D3.
In northern climates (anywhere north of Birmingham in the UK) sunlight is too weak in parts of the year to make any vitamin D – a period referred to as ‘Vitamin D Winter’.
Although some foods naturally contain or are fortified with supplemental vitamin D. Researchers suggest that this is only a small percentage of what we need daily. In contrast, sun exposure to the skin makes thousands of units of vitamin D naturally in a relatively short period of time.
Supplementation of vitamin D via food is an alternative means of producing vitamin D when regular, non-burning sun exposure is not possible, oral supplementation of vitamin D is not nature’s intended means of producing this vitamin and past experiments in the 1970’s led to over processing of calcium in children.
The Vitamin D Society state;
“While overexposure to sunlight carries risks, the cosmetic skin care industry has misled the public into believing that any UV exposure is harmful. No research has shown that regular, non-burning exposure to UV light poses a significant risk of skin damage.
Humans spend less time in the sun today than at any point in human history – which is why more than 1 billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D Comes From the Sun
Sunlight is the best and only natural source of vitamin D. Unlike dietary or supplementary vitamin D, when you get your ‘D’ from sunshine your body takes what it needs, and de-metabolizes any extra. That’s critical – as vitamin D experts and many health groups now advocate 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily – five to ten times the old recommendations. Because too much ‘D’ from dietary supplements may cause the body to over-process calcium, nobody really knows for sure how much supplementary vitamin D is safe. On the other hand, sunlight-induced vitamin D doesn’t have that problem – it’s the way your body is intended to make it!”
Before everybody rushes for the sunbed or starts running naked around the garden…BEWARE! Skin cancer is still on the rise and one of the major cancers faced today. Exposure to the sun should be treated responsibly, NEVER allowing the skin to burn.
Always protect eyes from the sun.
Female Gardeners take note – Sun and wind will dehydrate and “age” the skin rapidly.
Good skin care is vital.
If in doubt please consult a specialist medical practitioner before taking any form of exercise or changing your lifestyle.
How much is enough?
Experts recommend sun exposure to the arms and legs for 10-15 minutes.
The amount of vitamin D produced depends on the intensity of the UVB in the sun and many other factors. Darker-skinned individuals may need 5-10 times more exposure than a fair-skinned person to make the same amount of vitamin D.
All of this points to the fact that gardening has yet another health bonus!