"Here comes the sun, little darling"

"And I say, it’s alright.”

Aaaand I’m back with a post on the Sun! Only this time I’ll be focusing on the positive effects! (Can I get an Amen?!)

I know the sun’s reputation is getting increasingly worse, and I’ve been adding fuel to that fire with my latest 2 posts on the Sun and the Skin, I know. The truth is, the sun isn’t all bad. I’m not going to back off on the use of sunscreen or anything, I’ll stay fairly firm on that, but I don’t believe in extremes of anything in life, including UV avoidance, (and with that sentence, I made the world wide dermatological community, collectively gasp for air).

So here comes a ray of light in your SPF prison, a beacon of hope to your life in the shade, a flash of inspiration through your tinted lenses, a.. (all right, I’ll stop now).

I shall sum up the benefits, as I see them

1.  Sunlight gives you Vitamin D.  (This is a long one, bear with me)

The sun, or UVB radiation to be precise, is responsible for conversion of pre-vitamin D in the skin, into active vitamin D3. Adequate sun exposure is important for maintenance of our vitamin D levels, this is especially important in at-risk groups such as those who are elderly, who avoid the sun for medical reasons, or those who have dark skin.

A 2005 position statement from the Cancer Council Australia is the first by a national cancer council to recognize the importance of balance in recommendations about sun exposure — i.e. to avoid an increased risk of skin cancer, but to have sufficient UVR exposure to maintain adequate vitamin D levels.

The role of vitamin D to our overall health is complex. Vitamin D exerts positive effects at a number of locations in our body, and deficiency is related to everything from Rickets (a disease characterized by bone deformities and fractures), psychological disease, immunological disease, and asthma to cancer! There is growing evidence that vitamin D exerts protective effects against cancer. UVB radiation, which is required for vitamin D production in the skin, was found to be inversely associated with cancer incidence and mortality. Circulating vitamin D levels, were also associated with improved survival in colorectal and lung cancer patients, and has been shown protective in as much as 17 different cancer types.

In the skin, Vitamin D replenishes hydration and boosts elasticity, helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles, enhances the skin’s radiance, corrects acne scars, and helps correct sun damage and dark spots. These effects are mostly seen when serums of the vitamin is applied to skin directly.

2.  It may help in certain skin diseases:  Photo therapy, or UV light therapy is used in a number of dermatological clinics for treatment of diseases such as psoriasis (a condition where the skin sheds its cells too quickly and develops itchy, scaly patches), vitiligo (lack of pigment), and in severe cases of body acne. It has also shown to have antibacterial effects, and has been associated with therapeutic effect in cases of topical tuberculosis.

3.  It makes you happy! I’ll put an appropriately :) here. Much of this effect is due to increased levels of vitamin D following sunlight exposure, but in recent research it has been pointed out that Serotonin - our happy hormone, as well as Melatonin - a hormone involved in the control of proper sleeping patterns, dreaming, and has also been attributed to keeping aging processes at bay, are secreted in higher amounts after sunlight exposure. Last summer I took part in a dermatology conference, and I remember one of the speakers recommending time in the sun, especially after 3 o clock, as that is when the infrared radiation is the strongest and the UVB the weakest, and although you wont get as much vitamin D production happening at this time, infrared radiation he said, would make us feel good and happy.

4.    It may keep you young.  Vitamin D again, has been found to regulate a number of genes in our body, some of which are associated to aging better. Vitamin D has this effect on our bones, our skin and on our hair where the effect is aiding skin to guard against invasion by microorganisms and it elicits hair growth and cycling to shield against the age-related damages from UV irradiation.

So there you are! (And you’re welcome!) A number a positive effects have been shown to be associated to sunlight, but this doesn’t mean you now suddenly wont look old after a life of unprotected sun worship, we just need to know how much sun exposure is enough to get the beneficial effects without the danger of also getting the bad ones. The recommendations for exposure time to levels of vitamin D production are:

For pale skin, the exposure time in the summer noonday sun in the southern United States is about 4-10 minutes a day; for dark skin, such as for African Americans, the corresponding time is 60- 80 minutes. The length of time varies with geographical location, skin pigmentation, percent body fat, and age. The best time of day for vitamin D production is near solar noon, when the ratio of UVB to UVA is highest. Typically, vitamin D3 can be produced from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the spring, summer, and fall. In Norway, where I’m from, the recommended time frame is around 30 min, if you have a darker skin tone then 40-50 minutes should be efficient.

My dad the pharmacist, takes vitamin D3 daily, and has been pushing those little white pills on me for a while now. I’ve obediently taken them with my breakfeast juice when at home, and then more or less forgotten about them when back in my city of study. I shall now make sure to eat them daily. Gosh, I really do think too little emphasis has been made by the medical community concerning vitamin D, and I’m glad research is pointing to a change in that regard.

Remember though to eat activated vitamin D3 supplements, not D2 or anything else that is not D3, as those will not have the same effect on your body, and have even been associated with negative effects!

You can get your vitamin D for $12.49 here, Vitamin D3 5000 IU (5000IU, 100 capsules)   Vitamin D3 5000 IU (5000IU, 100 capsules)- , and it ships worldwide -

PoHealth is also hosting a web offer right now ending the 22 of July, where you get 20% off all vitamin purchases worth $75 20% Off $75 Vitamin Orders at ProHealth.com. Expires 7/22/2012

 

Sources:

Vitamin D Deficiency as a Strong Predictor of Asthma in Children

Received: October 20, 2010 Accepted after revision: December 29, 2010 Published online: October 6, 2011

Abdulbari Benera, c Mohammad S. Ehlayelb Meri K. Tulicd Qutayba Hamide

The nuclear vitamin D receptor controls the expression of genes encoding factors which feed the “Fountain of Youth” to mediate healthful aging

Mark R. Haussler,a,* Carol A. Haussler,a G. Kerr Whitfield,a Jui-Cheng Hsieh,a Paul D. Thompson,a Thomas K. Barthel,a Leonid Bartik,a Jan B. Egan,b Yifei Wu,a Jana L. Kubicek,a Christine L. Lowmiller,a Eric W. Moffet,a Ryan E. Forster,a and Peter W. Jurutkab

Published online 2010 March 20. doi:  10.1016/j.jsbmb.2010.03.019

PMCID: PMC2906618

NIHMSID: NIHMS194636

The benefits and risks of ultraviolet (UV) tanning and its alternatives: the role of prudent sun exposure

Dermatol Clin. 2009 April; 27(2): 149–vi.

doi:  10.1016/j.det.2008.11.008

PMCID: PMC2692214

Epidemiology of Vitamin D Insufficiency and Cancer Mortality

  1. STEFAN PILZ,
  2. ANDREAS TOMASCHITZ,
  3. BARBARA OBERMAYER-PIETSCH,
  4. HARALD DOBNIG and
  5. THOMAS R. PIEBER

Anticancer Research September 2009 vol. 29 no. 9 3699-3704

Is the current public health message on UV exposure correct?

Robyn M LucasI,1; Mike H RepacholiII; Anthony J McMichaelI

Bull World Health Organ vol.84 no.6 Genebra June 2006

ANTICANCER RESEARCH 26: 2723-2728 (2006)

Review

UV Radiation and Cancer Prevention: What is the Evidence?

R. KRAUSE1, B. MATULLA-NOLTE1, M. ESSERS1, A. BROWN1 and W. HOPFENMÜLLER2

Impact of UVA exposure on psychological parameters and circulating serotonin and melatonin

Thilo Gambichler*, Armin Bader, Mirjana Vojvodic, Falk G Bechara, Kirsten Sauermann, Peter Altmeyer and Klaus Hoffman

BMC Dermatology 2002, 2:6 doi:10.1186/1471-5945-2-6

Benefits and Requirements of Vitamin D for Optimal Health: A Review

William B. Grant, PhD, and Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD